- What is a bond?
- What is a capital item?
- How can bond dollars be used?
- Was the community involved in determining what projects and items should be included in Bond 2021?
- Does RISD have a long-range bond plan?
- How does RISD’s move to a middle school model from a junior high model impact Bond 2021?
- How does Bond 2021 impact Pre-Kindergarten opportunities for RISD families?
- What is overflow and how will Bond 2021 impact it?
- When was RISD’s last bond referendum?
- Is RISD’s bond package related to or part of the City of Richardson bond package?
- Would this bond allow students or staff to receive a new computer or device each year?
- Why were junior highs in the Lake Highlands learning community selected to be the first to transition to the middle school (grade 6-8) model? When will the Berkner, Pearce and Richardson learning community junior highs make the transition?
- How has the pandemic impacted RISD enrollment?
- How does RISD plan to manage projects associated with the 2021 Bond? In house or through consultants?
- How old is the school bus that is being used to display a bond information banner? How can we believe that there is a need for school buses that the district has enough of a surplus to repurpose them for mobile advertising?
- What if Bond 2021 passed, and a bond in 2026 did not pass? What would then occur with the middle school transformation plan?
- 1:1 technology for students was provided in the 2016 bond at a cost of $19.6 million. The bond is asking for $56 million to do the same thing. Why is the cost so much higher now?
- What is the timeline for potential renovation of Northrich and Stults Road elementary schools?
- What is the current square footage per pupil of PHS, and how does that compare to the other RISD high schools,? How many square feet would be added through Bond 2021 expansion/renovation?
- Would expansion at Mohawk and Brentfield be necessary if JJP feeder pattern junior highs would be expanded to include grades 6-8?
- Specifically, in what ways would PHS be expanded?
- If LH junior high were expanded instead of rebuilt, what would the difference in costs be and would there be a difference in construction time?
- What is total estimated amount of a 2026 bond package?
- If Bond 2021 were not successful, could the cost of items increase if included in a future bond?
- What is the district track record for actual cost overruns on capital expenditures from the most recent (2016) bond? Was there a significant increase to the WRE expansion project? Did the MACs (multipurpose activity centers) incur significant cost overruns?
- What was the last bond election date, amount of bond money, and how was it spent?
- How much more staff will need to be hired to accomplish the Junior High to Middle School transition?
- Where is the Facilities Audit?
- Where is the Demographers Study?
- Where can details of proposed bond items be found?
- How does an equity model help students?
- How soon will new technology equipment be in staff, teachers and students hands?
- Are teacher salaries due to be increased soon?
- Does the composition of the BSC represent the diversity of the entire district? How are members of the committee chosen?
- Does the technology bond proposition include funds for WiFi hot spots for students who need it?
- What population projections were the building expansions based on?
- Can RISD meet with residents who are adjacent to the LHJH proposed rebuild to answer questions and receive feedback before the construction design is finalized?
- How does Bond 2021 support the district’s improvement plan and continuous improvement process?
- Would RISD’s property tax rate increase if the Bond 2021 package is approved?
- What is RISD’s tax rate, and what would it be if Bond 2021 were to pass?
- If voters approve Bond 2021, how could RISD issue bonds to pay for projects without increasing the tax rate?
- Why does the ballot language say this is a tax increase?
- Can RISD address or explain a Forbes article discussing municipal/school district bonds and impact on taxes?
- Can the actual amount of property taxes that a property owner has to pay go up or down in a given year even if the tax rate stays the same?
- What does the ballot language THE LEVYING OF A TAX SUFFICENT, WITHOUT LIMIT AS TO RATE OR AMOUNT” mean? Does that mean RISD could raise the tax rate by any amount needed to pay for the bonds?
- Are property taxes frozen for RISD residents over age 65?
- What are RISD’s bond ratings and how do they impact the district’s finances?
- What will happen if Bond 2021 is not approved by voters?
- Does RISD pay for shorter-life capital items like computers with long-term bonds?
- What is the average home value in RISD?
- How do the historically low interest rates impact RISD’s ability to issue bonds?
- How does RISD’s property tax rate currently compare to other area school districts?
- How many Texas school districts have issued bonds to pay for capital items?
- How long has it been since RISD’s last bond election? How much debt does RISD owe from previous bonds?
- What percent of RISD’s operating budget is spent on central administration?
- How much of RISD’s operating budget is spent on different functions of the district?
- Can bond funds be used to pay for teacher or employee salaries?
- Why doesn’t RISD pay for things like new classrooms or computers from its operating budget instead of borrowing money for capital items?
- Given the current credit rating and indebtedness in RISD, what is the maximum amount that RISD is eligible to borrow at this time? What is the maximum amount that RISD can borrow without raising the tax rate?
- When the bond steering committee put together the estimated costs for items in the bond issue, what is the percentage used for padding/contingency factors for items?
- If the bond passes, how many bids will be solicited for each line item on the bond issue? Is the winning bid determined only by cost?
- Each item in the bond has an estimated cost. If the actual cost is less than the estimated cost, does the excess go for unnamed projects or is it used to reduce the debt service?
- The annual tax statement from RISD does not show any line items. For transparency, could RISD update the tax statement to show one line item for operational costs and another line item for debt service like other taxing entities do?
- How much money has been spent on bond informational materials like signs, flyers, banners, mailers, etc? Where do those funds come from?
- Can you provide information on the process that is used to come up with estimated costs for construction projects?
- If the bond does not pass, would the debt service tax rate eventually go down? If so, when would that occur?
- Would Bond 2021 be a tax increase? Not a tax rate increase, but a tax increase?
- What growth is embedded in property values to maintain no changes to the tax rate? How much is due to new construction compared to increases in existing appraised values? If property values grow faster than anticipated, what would the district do?
- Is there any connection between any bond expenditure (including a school rebuild or school renovation) and a homeowner’s property values?
- Will whatever funds RISD eventually receives from the federal COVID Relief Packages be used for the items in the bond propositions?
- Are RISD bond interest payments and principal repayments paid for with any funds other than RISD property tax?
- What exactly is the local optional homestead exemption and why don’t most other school districts offer it anymore?
- Is any part of the 2021 bond issue planned as re-issue at current low interest rates of older RISD bonds at higher interest rates?
1. What is a bond?
Texas independent school districts issue bonds to pay for capital expenditures. Districts repay the bonds through revenue generated from property taxes collected by the district. School district bonds are similar to a home mortgage in that the borrower repays the lender — in this case, investors — over time and in accordance to the terms of the bond sale.
Since 1996, Richardson ISD has used a five-year bond cycle, asking stakeholders to approve a bond package to fund needed capital improvements to address student growth, for the district’s aging facilities, and academic program needs.
2. What is a capital item?
Capital items have a useful life of more than one year, and by law, only capital items can be paid for with the proceeds of bond sales. Examples include, but are not limited to, facility construction or renovation, land acquisition, computers and technology infrastructure, library books, curriculum materials, buses, musical instruments, and uniforms.
3. How can bond dollars be used?
Under Texas law, proceeds of bond sales may only be used to pay for items with a useful life of more than one year. Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing buildings, land acquisition, technology, buses, musical instruments, uniforms and equipment, among other items. These items include, but are not limited to, facility construction or renovation, computers, library books, curriculum, calculators, musical instruments and uniforms, among others. Bond proceeds may not be used for recurring expenses such as the district’s payroll or utilities.
Much of the proceeds from recent bond packages have funded renovations to RISD facilities, most of which were built more than 50 years ago. Some of the projects funded through bonds this century include: three new elementary schools (Audelia Creek, Carolyn Bukhair, Thurgood Marshall); substantial renovations at 16 campuses; stadium upgrades; construction of multipurpose activity centers at all four high schools; library renovations at all elementary schools; increased security systems at all facilities; and expanded CTE programming.
4. Was the community involved in determining what projects and items should be included in Bond 2021?
Yes. The projects and items that RISD trustees included in Bond 2021 came at the recommendation of the bond steering committee, which consisted of more than 50 RISD taxpayers, parents, teachers and staff. The group met multiple times in 2020 to study facility, equipment and infrastructure needs before making recommendations to the board after analyzing facilities assessments, enrollment projections, financial data, results of a community survey and other data relevant in creating and maintaining learning environments that align with the RISD mission, vision and goals.
Committee members represented each of RISD’s four learning communities and reviewed projects from previous bond packages among the information studied in making the recommendation. The work of the RISD Bond Steering Committee is detailed on the BSC website.
5. Does RISD have a long-range bond plan?
Yes. Through the work of the bond steering committee, administration and trustees, there are two related elements to RISD’s long range bond plans.
- RISD’s transformation of existing junior highs into middle schools to accommodate the transition of sixth graders into middle schools is expected to span two bonds, the 2021 bond and 2026 bond. Based on the condition of the different aging campuses, some junior highs will be replaced while others will be renovated. Because of the poor condition of Lake Highlands JH, the middle school model will initially occur in the Lake Highlands learning community as a result of the 2021 bond, while the junior highs in RISD’s other three learning communities would be replaced or renovated to accommodate the transition to middle schools as a result of a 2026 bond.
- Most of RISD’s schools were built between 1952 and 1980. While periodic renovations and system replacements have occurred over the decades, the condition of many campuses has reached, or is expected to reach, the point where replacement or major retrofitting are less expensive than the ongoing repair and replacement of failing systems. A facility condition audit was conducted in 2020 and results were used as one data point in helping to determine RISD’s long range vision for replacement or retrofitting of its older schools. This effort is anticipated to span the next 20 years over four bonds: 2021, 2026, 2031 and 2036.
6. How does RISD’s move to a middle school model from a junior high model impact Bond 2021?
After extensive study, RISD made the decision to adopt a middle school instructional model with students in grades six, seven and eight attending middle schools, and students in grades Pre-K through grade five attending elementary schools. The academic and social/emotional benefits for students in a middle school model are numerous; and only about 5% of Texas school districts still use the junior high model.
This decision has a direct impact on Bond 2021 (and expected impact on Bond 2026). Additional space will be needed at all eight RISD junior highs to accommodate sixth grade students. Based on the condition of the different aging junior high campuses, some junior highs will be replaced while others will be renovated. These efforts are planned to span the 2021 and 2026 bonds. Sixth graders in the Lake Highlands learning community will be the first to transition to a middle school model as a result of work in the 2021 bond, while sixth graders in the other three RISD learning communities will follow as a result of work in a 2026 bond.
7. How does Bond 2021 impact Pre-Kindergarten opportunities for RISD families?
The facility changes that would result from Bond 2021 would permit full implementation of RISD’s Pre-K for All initiative, including space for every RISD family seeking a high-quality full-day Pre-K opportunity. Currently, RISD has space to offer Pre-K to families eligible under state guidelines, including income, language and other criteria.
The transition to a middle school instruction model would be a key driver in RISD becoming able to offer Pre-K for All because of the space that would open at elementary schools.
The academic benefits of high-quality full-day Pre-K are substantial. The correlation between Pre-K, early literacy, and academic success over a child’s school career is well established. Bond 2021 would allow RISD to offer these opportunities to every family, either at no cost for families meeting the state of Texas eligibility criteria or through a tuition model for other families.
8. What is overflow and how will Bond 2021 impact it?
For many years, part of RISD’s strategy to accommodate enrollment growth at the elementary level has been to reassign students to other elementary schools as grade levels become full at a neighborhood school. The overflow process continues to be used in RISD today, and sending families away from their neighborhood school is not an ideal method to help manage growth. With the decision to adopt a middle school model that will eventually transition sixth grade students to junior highs transformed through Bond 2021 into middle schools, every RISD elementary campus will have additional classroom space. Portions of the elementary space will be used by Pre-K classrooms as RISD’s Pre-K for All initiative continues implementation (see separate FAQ), while remaining space can be used to ensure that all RISD families have space at their neighborhood elementary campus and allow RISD to formally end the overflow process.
During periods of substantial enrollment growth, thousands of RISD students have been overflowed away from their neighborhood elementary school due to lack of space.
Overflowed RISD Elementary Students
- 2000-01: 637
- 2001-02: 670
- 2002-03: 653
- 2003-04: 386
- 2004-05: 549
- 2005-06: 414
- 2006-07: 225
- 2007-08: 568
- 2008-09: 508
- 2009-10: 671
- 2010-11: 736
- 2011-12: 804
- 2012-13: 724
- 2013-14: 826
- 2014-15: 680
- 2015-16: 804
- 2016-17: 835
- 2017-18: 685
- 2018-19: 352
- 2019-20: 318
9. When was RISD’s last bond referendum?
In 2016, 67% of the RISD electorate approved a $437 million bond package. Capital projects funded through Bond 2016 are 95% complete, with the remaining projects expected to be completed this summer. The RISD community has passed every school bond referendum since the first one the school district put on the ballot in 1951. The school district has operated on a five-year bond cycle since 1996.
10. Is RISD’s bond package related to or part of the City of Richardson bond package?
No. Richardson ISD and the Cities of Richardson, Dallas and Garland are all separate and independent entities with their own independent taxing, budgeting, oversight, governance, or bond project affiliation. School district bond projects and capital expenditures are in no way connected to City bond projects or capital expenditures.
11. Would this bond allow students or staff to receive a new computer or device each year? What is the lifetime of technology?
Students are typically issued a device for use at the beginning of a school year, and return it at the end of the year (with the some exceptions if students take courses over the summer, etc.). The previously-used (and reformatted) devices are then re-issued to students the next school year. New devices are purchased in cycles to replace used devices that become inoperable, damaged, lost or stolen (parents are asked to purchase insurance to recover the cost if this occurs with a student device).
District-issued devices can be used by students and staff members for up to five years before replacement. If a staff device malfunctions, becomes damaged, or is lost or stolen, it can be repaired or replaced with a used or new device. In addition to wear and tear over a period of years and use, devices typically become less effective and eventually obsolete as technology advances and system requirements increase to perform the functions necessary for the applications used in education.
12. Why were junior highs in the Lake Highlands learning community selected to be the first to transition to the middle school (grade 6-8) model? When will the Berkner, Pearce and Richardson learning community junior highs make the transition?
Two primary factors drove this recommendation. The condition of Lake Highlands Junior High is the first, as it is RISD’s junior high ranked lowest on the facility condition assessment and replacement is recommended. The second factor is that there is not capacity under RISD’s current debt service tax rate to generate funds to address every junior high in the Bond 2021 package, without raising the tax rate. It is important to the bond steering committee, RISD Trustees, and RISD leadership that Bond 2021 not increase the debt service tax rate.
As part of the long range bond recommendations, the junior highs in the Berkner, Pearce and Richardson areas would be renovated or replaced (based on facility condition assessment) as part of projects associated with Bond 2026.
13. How has the pandemic impacted RISD enrollment?
Like most school districts across North Texas, RISD’s overall enrollment declined in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20. In October, district enrollment was down 1,832 students compared to last year. RISD staff have continued to engage in efforts to locate missing students, and some families have chosen to re-enroll as pandemic conditions have improved. As of April enrollment was down 1674 from last year – 85% of the pandemic decline has occurred in elementary grades.
RISD’s January demographic update projects a return to pre-pandemic enrollment levels and growth once the pandemic ends.
14. How does RISD plan to manage projects associated with the 2021 Bond? In house or through consultants?
RISD has traditionally used a hybrid model of bond project management. In house facilities staff are used to manage projects, and they work with vendors/consultants in areas such as planning & zoning, engineering, architecture, and construction managers at risk. RISD has employed this approach due to the blend of cost effectiveness, efficiency, and quality control that it provides.
15. How old is the school bus that is being used to display a bond information banner? How can we believe that there is a need for school buses that the district has enough of a surplus to repurpose them for mobile advertising?
RISD has parked three buses at central buildings and attached bond information banners to them during the month of April as a way to raise public awareness about the election. The buses are from the year 2007 and are at the end of useful life. They are no longer used on regular daily routes and serve as backup options if newer buses break down or require service. In a non-pandemic year, they would also be used as needed to provide transportation for local student field trips, which are not occurring in person this year due to health protocols.
After the dissolution of Dallas County Schools (RISD’s previous transportation provider), RISD brought student transportation in house starting in 2018, and it is now necessary to maintain a safe and dependable fleet of district buses. As capital items with a useful life of more than one year, RISD has included the purchase of additional buses in the bond proposition to be able to replace older buses over time that reach the end of useful life.
16. What if Bond 2021 passed, and a bond in 2026 did not pass? What would then occur with the middle school transformation plan?
Under that scenario, there would not be funding for middle school expansions or renovations at the six junior highs not located in Lake Highlands, and the implementation of a middle school model would not be able to occur in those learning communities until funding could be identified in a future bond. This possibility is inherent in any projects that would be part of long term bond plans – implementation is always contingent upon voter approval of current/future propositions.
17. 1:1 technology for students was provided in the 2016 bond at a cost of $19.6 million. The bond is asking for $56 million to do the same thing. Why is the cost so much higher now?
The items within the $56 million for proposition B in Bond 2021 includes items used for instructional technology, such as individual student devices, individual teacher and support staff devices, library devices, general classroom devices such as projectors, computer lab equipment and devices/equipment for CTE programs for students such as photography, audio/video production, animation, visual arts, journalism, business management, robotics, computer science, cybersecurity, biotechnology and aviation/aeronautical science.
Specific to student and staff devices, the projected cost of each device has also increased since planning and projections from the 2016 bond, due to increase in market costs, increase in RAM requirements, increase in SSD space requirements, added GPU, and upgraded chipsets.
18. What is the timeline for potential renovation of Northrich and Stults Road elementary schools?
That has not yet been determined and would be determined if the bond passes and a full project timeline is developed. As they are renovations based on campus age and facility condition, but not based on enrollment growth, the need for more capacity or to address a safety issue, the projects would likely be scheduled later in the bond so projects related to capacity/safety could be addressed sooner within the five year window.
19. What is the current square footage per pupil of PHS, and how does that compare to the other RISD high schools,? How many square feet would be added through Bond 2021 expansion/renovation?
Lake Highlands HS (renovated & expanded 2020) – 2,780 enrollment, 593,582 sq ft – 213 sf/student
Richardson HS (renovated 2018) – 2,795 enrollment, 498,387 sq ft – 178 sf/student
Pearce HS – 2,396 enrollment, 412,701 sq ft – 172 sf/student
Pearce HS Proposed – 2,674 projected enrollment, 503,914 sq ft – 188 sf/student
Proposed PHS expansion would be 91,213 sf.
20. Would expansion at Mohawk and Brentfield be necessary if JJP feeder pattern junior highs would be expanded to include grades 6-8?
Yes, current and projected enrollment growth are factors behind the proposed expansion projects of the two schools. Another factor in bond planning related to elementary space made available through implementation of a middle school model is the need for more Pre-K classrooms so there could be space at every elementary school for Pre-K families from their neighborhood attendance area.
21. Specifically, in what ways would PHS be expanded?
PHS would receive additional classrooms, both core and Career Technical Education, a new cafeteria, (currently PHS uses two different spaces for cafeterias), correction of deficiencies in the current auditorium, moving the black box theater closer to the existing fine arts wing, and new administration areas at two new entrances to the building.
22. If LH junior high were expanded instead of rebuilt, what would the difference in costs be and would there be a difference in construction time?
The bond steering committee based its recommendation for LHJH replacement on the facilities condition audits and assigned index rating that was conducted for every RISD school in 2019-20 so informed bond planning decisions could be made. Lake Highlands Junior High was the lowest indexed school in RISD, and at 70 years old, critical infrastructures in the building have reached or are projected to reach the end of useful life during the 2021 bond cycle. RISD did not formally estimate the cost for expansion of the current building given all of the underlying systems that would also need to be replaced. Per the facilities audit, replacement was recommended in this bond cycle. Stakeholders can review the facilities conditions audits and facility index ratings as part of bond planning materials on the Bond 2021 website.
23. What is total estimated amount of a 2026 bond package?
24. If Bond 2021 were not successful, could the cost of items increase if included in a future bond?
It’s difficult to predict the future economic indicators that could impact the future cost of all bond items and projects, but based on historical data and general inflation, yes, it is likely that the future cost of a construction project would be higher than the current cost.
25. What is the district track record for actual cost overruns on capital expenditures from the most recent (2016) bond? Was there a significant increase to the WRE expansion project? Did the MACs (multipurpose activity centers) incur significant cost overruns?
Projects from the 2016 bond are about 95% complete. So far, no Bond 2016 projects have incurred significant cost overruns – meaning the cost to RISD of each project has been in line with initial projections based on the specific work to be completed. Protection from cost overruns is part of the reason RISD utilizes a construction manager at risk process that includes guaranteed maximum prices. By using that process, factors that would raise the cost of a project past the projected price (that don’t involve a change in the scope of the work to be completed) would be borne by the construction manager at risk and not the district.
Separate from the topic of cost overruns is an increased cost associated with changing the scope of a project. Trustees discussed and took action to increase the scope of five projects in Bond 2016. By increasing the scope (a term that means doing additional work than originally planned), the estimated costs for the projects increased, and a vote was required.
The first project that had its scope expanded was the WRE expansion project. This occurred because after Bond 2016 was approved and before the WRE work began, the Federal Emergency Management Agency updated the 500 year flood plain to include part of the school footprint. That resulted in a requirement that a drainage system be installed as part of the project, significantly increasing the scope and increasing the cost of the project by approximately $5.79 million.
The other four projects that had their scopes increased were the four multipurpose activity centers (one at each high school). The original scope and projected costs for the MACs did not include locker rooms or office and meeting space for athletics. When the project planning committee process unfolded, the request was made for the board to consider expanding the scope of the MACS to include locker rooms, storage space and offices, which increased the cost of each MAC by approximately $2 million, which was a total of $8 million total for the additional scope. Trustees discussed and agreed to expand the scope and approve the additional cost, which was paid from a one time use of operating funds.
26. What was the last bond election date, amount of bond money, and how was it spent?
Bond 2016 was approved by voters on May 7, 2016, in the amount of $437 million. Comprehensive information about Bond 2016 projects is available on Bond 2016 information site at https://web.risd.org/bond2016/. This site is also linked to under resources on the Bond 2021 website.
27. How much more staff will need to be hired to accomplish the Junior High to Middle School transition?
No additional staff are projected as a result of the transition. The number of RISD schools would remain the same, and sixth grade teachers currently at elementary schools would eventually move to middle schools.
28. Where is the Facilities Audit?
29. Where is the Demographers Study?
30. Where can details of proposed bond items be found?
31. How does an equity model help students?
Like virtually every school district around Texas and the United States, there is a gap in academic performance between students of difference races. Making a conscious effort to ensure equity among all students in access to programs and resources is a primary way to approach closing that gap.
32. How soon will new technology equipment be in staff, teachers and students hands?
If Bond 2021 is approved, new technology rollouts will happen over the course of the five-year bond-cycle. Traditionally, RISD refreshes technology for teachers and staff in the first year of a new bond. Student devices are refreshed beginning the second year of the bond. However, due to the increased global demand for chip-sets, some technology items will be under a general industry constraint which may cause delays. RISD will do its best to ensure that all staff, teachers and students receive new technology equipment as soon as the market allows in conjunction with our roll-out plans. (See FAQ 11 for more information).
33. Are teacher salaries due to be increased soon?
Teacher salaries are paid from operating funds, and by law cannot be paid from bond funds. Through the operating budget planning process, teacher salaries have increased each year over the last 9 operating years, and an increase for teachers for 2021-2022 will be discussed as part of the 2021-22 budget planning process.
34. Does the composition of the BSC represent the diversity of the entire district? How are members of the committee chosen?
The district started with publishing a general request to the community for anyone who was interested in serving on the committee. Additional BSC members were invited based on recommendations from each RISD principal and RISD trustees. Each RISD learning community was represented on the bond steering committee, and substantial efforts were made to invite committee members representing the different demographics reflected around RISD.
Community members interested in serving on future RISD committees are encouraged to let the district know.
35. Does the technology bond proposition include funds for WiFi hot spots for students who need it?
It does not, because RISD already invested in large numbers of hotspots for RISD students heading into the pandemic. RISD is also part of a state of Texas effort to ensure students have access to internet, and could receive additional hotspots through that participation, if needed.
36. What population projections were the building expansions based on?
Projects involving additional classrooms are based on enrollment levels during the first half of last school year (pre-pandemic), current enrollment levels (high school attendance has continued growth during the pandemic) and the annual demographic update from Templeton Demographics, along with the data for each school in the facilities use and capacity audits. Almost all of RISD’s pandemic enrollment loss occurred in elementary grade levels, and the demographic report projects enrollment levels and pockets of growth to resume once the impact of the pandemic concludes (see FAQ 13 for more information).
37. Can RISD meet with residents who are adjacent to the LHJH proposed rebuild to answer questions and receive feedback before the construction design is finalized?
The construction design for LHJH is not finalized. Preliminary plans were developed in conjunction with a program planning committee that included residents and school staff. District staff are in the process of arranging a meeting at the school with RISD District 5 Trustee Karen Clardy and residents who reside adjacent to the school to go over preliminary plans, answer questions, and collaborate on requests.
38. How does Bond 2021 support the district’s improvement plan and continuous improvement process?
Bond 2021 supports the district’s improvement planning process as it includes projects that align directly to the current Strategic Plan and Board Goals. Both of these items served as data inputs for the Bond Steering Committee to consider as part of their study sessions and final recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Specific projects that are included in Bond 2021 that support the district’s continuous improvement process include Middle School Transformation, instructional materials and digital teaching applications as well as instructional and curriculum materials to support Career and Technical Education (CTE). These are also projects that align with current Board Goals to close student achievement and opportunity gaps for all students.
Taxes and Finances
1. Would RISD’s property tax rate increase if the Bond 2021 package is approved?
Click here to view 2020-2021 Tax Rate Comparison.
2. What is RISD’s tax rate, and what would it be if Bond 2021 were to pass?
RISD’s total tax rate is $1.4047 per $100 of taxable assessed value. The tax rate is separated into $1.0547 for maintenance and operations (M&O Tax Rate) and $0.35 for principal and interest payments on bonds (the debt service tax rate). The debt service tax rate would not change and remain at $0.35 if Bond 2021 is approved by voters.
The M&O tax rate is set by the state of Texas and is not impacted by any Bond package. Whether the M&O tax rate changes in a given year is a function of the Texas school finance system and is unrelated to the issuance of bonds.
3. If voters approve Bond 2021, how could RISD issue bonds to pay for projects without increasing the tax rate?
As part of its financial and budgeting philosophy, RISD aggressively structures and repays bond debt, while taking advantage of opportunities to refinance debt into lower interest rates when possible in a process known as refunding.
The primary benefit of the district’s philosophy is the significant present-value savings that occur through lower interest rates achieved by the refinancing. Another benefit of RISD’s aggressive repayment of bonds is the additional bonding capacity it creates while keeping the tax rate the same on property within the district.
An additional factor that has allowed RISD to repay bonds more quickly is the higher- than-projected revenue generated by continued growth in property values across the district. This allows RISD to accelerate repayment of previously issued bonds. Finally, the assumptions used for future interest rate and property values when calculating future bond capacity are very conservative. This means even if the assumptions vary moderately from recent trends, RISD would retain the capacity to fund proposed projects without impacting the tax rate. (See separate video)
In 2019, the Dallas County portion of RISD’s total assessed valuation rose more than 12% to $14.9 billion.
4. Why does the ballot language say this is a tax increase?
Although approval of Bond 2021 will not increase RISD’s tax rate, voters should know that a new state law requires that the statement “This is a property tax increase” must appear as part of every Texas school district bond proposition ballot regardless of whether passage of the proposition would result in a tax rate increase. a tax rate decrease, or not impact the tax rate at all. (See separate FAQ #5)
In past bond elections, RISD has published in advance if and how passage would impact the tax rate (whether the rate would increase, stay the same, or decrease), and the actual impact has been consistent with projections. Passage of Bond 2021 would not increase RISD’s tax rate.
5. Can RISD address or explain a Forbes article discussing municipal/school district bonds and impact on taxes?
The Forbes article illustrates the potential confusion that exists surrounding the required state ballot wording, and the differences between a tax rate increase, what is considered a tax increase, and new tax obligations compared to existing tax obligations. The premise of the article related to a proposed bond election like RISD’s (propositions that would not raise the tax rate) is the idea that, even if the tax rate associated with repayment of bonds does not increase, the act of issuing any additional bonds should be called a tax increase, because if the bonds were not approved, the existing debt service tax rate would eventually decrease. This idea is likely the intent behind the new required ballot language (see separate FAQ #4) mandated for school districts by the legislature.
School districts like RISD that aggressively structure and pursue the pay down of existing debt are able to create additional capacity by doing so (see separate FAQ #3). This allows districts like RISD to propose the issuance of new bonds that can be paid off under the existing tax rate, therefore not requiring a tax rate increase (see video). The issuance of new bonds represents a new tax obligation for voters to consider – essentially providing permission for RISD to keep the tax rate the same in order to repay the new bonds. If the current Bond 2021 propositions are not approved by voters, and/or subsequent future bond propositions were not approved by voters, then the debt service tax rate would decrease over time as existing bonds (which are existing tax obligations approved by voters in previous Bond propositions) are paid off. So the article contends that any new tax obligation (in RISD’s case the new bonds that would be issued to fund Bond 2021 projects and equipment), represents a tax increase regardless of whether the new tax obligation would raise the existing debt service tax rate, lower it, or keep it the same.
In addition to the tax rate, the other factor that impacts how much in taxes a property owner actually pays in a given year is the appraised taxable value of the property. The appraised value of a property is unrelated to RISD and not affected by any bond proposition. In any year where the tax rate is unchanged, for both residential and commercial properties, the actual taxes assessed could still increase or decrease from the previous year based on increases or decreases in appraised taxable property values. (See separate FAQ #6)
6. Can the actual amount of property taxes that a property owner has to pay go up or down in a given year even if the tax rate stays the same?
Yes, in any year, if the taxable appraised value of a property increases or decreases from the previous year, then the actual amount of taxes due on a property would increase or decrease that year, even if the tax rate stays the same. The taxable appraised value of a property is not related to or impacted by a bond proposition or the property tax rate.
Under Texas law, the amount of property taxes due each year is based on two primary factors – the property tax rate and the taxable appraised value. The property tax rate is set by a taxing entity, such as RISD. The appraised value is determined by a separate entity called an appraisal district. In RISD’s area, it’s the Dallas Central Appraisal District.
The taxable appraised value is the appraised value of a property after any eligible exemptions are applied to the property. For example, homeowners in Texas receive a standard homestead exemption which reduces the taxable value of their home. Homeowners in RISD are eligible for an additional exemption (called a local optional homestead exemption) that further reduces their taxable value by 10% of the appraised value. RISD is one of three area school districts that continues to offer this optional exemption that reduces the amount of taxes due. Homeowners aged 65+ are eligible to freeze their taxes due at the amount due the year they turned 65. Exemptions do not exist for commercial properties.
Bond 2021 would not increase RISD’s debt service tax rate, so without a change in property tax rate, the primary factor that could change how much tax is due on a property compared to a previous year is whether the taxable appraised value changes. Another factor is the M&O portion of the school district tax rate, which is set by the state of Texas and unrelated to bond propositions (see separate FAQ #19).
7. What does the ballot language THE LEVYING OF A TAX SUFFICENT, WITHOUT LIMIT AS TO RATE OR AMOUNT” mean? Does that mean RISD could raise the tax rate by any amount needed to pay for the bonds?
This wording is standard ballot language in bond proposals, and similar wording has been used in previous bond elections. It essentially means that the tax rate can be set at whatever level is necessary to repay the bonds. For the 2021 bond package, the tax rate necessary to repay the bonds would be $0.35 per $100 of taxable assessed property value, which is identical to the current debt service tax rate. This assessment is based on very conservative assumptions related to future interest rates and taxable values. For more information, please see this video.
In the last four bond elections going back to the 2000s, RISD has published in advance whether a bond proposition would impact the debt service tax rate and by how much. In each instance, the actual impact of an approved bond package on the tax rate was the same as RISD’s projection. RISD’s debt service tax rate history as impacted by recent bond packages:
- 2006 Bond – decrease in tax rate by $0.02
- 2011 Bond – tax rate unchanged
- 2016 Bond – increase in tax rate by $0.05
- 2021 Bond – tax rate unchanged (if approved)
Although approval of Bond 2021 will not increase RISD’s tax rate, voters should know that a new state law requires that the statement “This is a property tax increase” must appear as part of every Texas municipal bond proposition ballot, regardless of whether passage of the proposition would result in a tax rate increase. RISD will issue a Voter Information document, which explains how ad valorem taxes could be affected based on assessed property values with new bond debt.
8. Are property taxes frozen for RISD residents over age 65?
Yes, homeowners 65 or older qualify to have their property tax levy frozen by the Dallas Central Appraisal District at the level it is when they turn 65. From that point forward, the tax levy on their property cannot exceed the frozen levy amount, even if the home value rises or the tax rate increases.
9. What are RISD’s bond ratings and how do they impact the district’s finances?
RISD maintains a triple-A rating from Moody’s Investors Service and an AA-plus rating from Standard & Poor’s. Only a few other Texas school districts have this combination of high bond ratings. The high ratings help RISD get the best possible interest rate on bond sale and also help lower the costs of issuance.
Moody’s analysts said RISD’s Aaa rating “reflects a strong financial profile characterized by prudent financial policies, healthy operating history and substantial available reserves including amounts held outside the general fund.”
Standard & Poor’s analysts said RISD’s “very strong levels of reserves are supported by a growing tax base and subsequent growth in property tax collections.”
Moody’s outlook on RISD’s credit rating is stable due to analysts’ “expectation that the district will continue to exhibit strong financial management resulting in stable financial operations and that its debt burden will remain manageable.”
10. What will happen if Bond 2021 is not approved by voters?
RISD’s Operating fund budget is structured to rely on bond elections every five years to pay for capital items and equipment. If Bond 2021 is not approved, then RISD would not be able to fund the vast majority of the items and projects in the proposed package. District staff and the Board would review if critical capital expenditures could be funded from operating fund reserves. Based on this evaluation some urgent capital needs (for example unanticipated HVAC replacement or broken water main repair at a school) could be funded through emergency withdrawals from operating fund reserves while waiting on another bond election in November 2021. A prolonged lack of access to bond funds for capital items would require RISD to carefully re-prioritize all spending needs and to identify additional funding options.
If Bond 2021 and/or subsequent bonds are not approved, then the debt service tax rate would eventually begin to decrease over a period of years.
11. Does RISD pay for shorter-life capital items like computers with long-term bonds?
One of RISD’s guiding principles for bonds – established during community input in advance of the 2001 bond – is to attempt to match the life of assets purchased with the length of the liability incurred to pay for them.
This means RISD’s goal is to not fund items like computers – with an anticipated useful life of five years – with a 30-year bond.
RISD’s structures bond issuances with this strategy in mind. Therefore, items are not being paid for beyond the period of use in the district, resulting in a very rapid debt repayment schedule. This strategy also helps RISD consistently achieve the highest stand-alone bond ratings among Texas school districts by independent ratings agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.
12. What is the average home value in RISD?
The Dallas Central Appraisal District is the only entity that determines the market value of homes in RISD for taxing purposes. In 2020, the average market value of residential homes across all of RISD’s boundaries per DCAD is $288,794.
The DCAD market value of a home is the starting point of determining taxable value. Homeowners can reduce their taxable value through a series of exemptions, including application of a standard homestead exemption and also RISD’s local optional homestead exemption. Homeowners who are 65 years of age or older can apply to have their tax levy frozen.
RISD boundaries include portions of Richardson, Dallas and Garland. The portion of the city of Richardson north of the Dallas/Collin county line is not part of RISD.
13. How do the historically low interest rates impact RISD’s ability to issue bonds?
The current interest rate environment is favorable for the issuance bonds compared to an environment if interest rates were higher. Lower interest rates, through a combination of the current overall rate environment and RISD’s quality stand alone bond ratings, allow the district to spend less funds on interest and direct those funds toward payment of principal. This is part of the reason that if Bond 2021 is approved, no increase to the property tax rate would result. Click here to view historic interest rate information for bonds.
14. How does RISD’s property tax rate currently compare to other area school districts?
School district property tax rates are divided into two parts. The maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the rate is determined each year by the state of Texas and the funds generated are used to operate the school district and pay for expenses like staff salaries and utilities. The debt service portion of the tax rate may only be used to pay back bonds that are issued to fund capital projects and equipment. (See separate FAQ).
If Bond 2021 is approved by voters, no change would occur to debt service portion of the property tax rate. Click here to view the comparison data for the 2020-21 school year.
15. How many Texas school districts have issued bonds to pay for capital items?
In the most recent data available (2019) 82% of the more than 1,000 Texas school districts are currently repaying bonds through a debt service tax rate.
16. How long has it been since RISD’s last bond election? How much debt does RISD owe from previous bonds?
RISD’s last bond was in 2016. RISD has operated on a five year bond cycle since 1996, funding school renovation and capital purchases through bonds in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. This cycle was established based on the recommendation of a community bond committee.
RISD issues 25 year bonds and has utilized the debt service portion of the property tax rate to aggressively repay bond debt. (See separate FAQ: If voters approve Bond 2021, how could RISD issue bonds to pay for projects without increasing the tax rate). RISD’s debt repayment schedule is public, and along with other financial information, is available on the finance page of the RISD website.
RISD has $513,480,000 of outstanding bond principal as of February 16, 2021.
17. What percent of RISD’s operating budget is spent on central administration?
In RISD’s most recent adopted operating budget (2020-21), 2.67% of expenditures were allocated to central administrative functions. RISD compares spending in different areas to other school districts to identify opportunities for savings and efficiencies. The central administration portion of RISD’s operating budget is consistently lower than the average of area school districts.
18. How much of RISD’s operating budget is spent on different functions of the district?
- 66.7%, Instruction and Instructional-Related Services
- 11.1%, Support Services – Student
- 9.8%, Support Services – Non-Student Based
- 8.7%, Instructional and School Leadership
- 2.7%, Administrative Support Services
- 0.7%, Intergovernmental Charges
- 0.3%, Ancillary Services
19. Can bond funds be used to pay for teacher or employee salaries? What is the divider between annual budget maintenance and bond proposal items?
The other portion of RISD’s property tax rate is known as the maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate, and funds generated are used to fund the operating budget that pays for the day to day expenses of the school district. RISD’s operating budget is approximately 90% employee salaries. So while items purchased through bond projects can directly impact teachers (for example, additional classroom space, teaching materials, staff computers, school safety/security upgrades), bond funds cannot be used for teacher or staff salaries. The operating portion of RISD’s tax rate is determined by the state of Texas under the state school finance formula and is currently $1.0547 per $100 of taxable value of a property. It would not be impacted by passage of Bond 2021.
20. Why doesn’t RISD pay for things like new classrooms or computers from its operating budget instead of borrowing money for capital items?
Under state law, the Texas school finance system is set up to provide operating funds each year based on the number of students enrolled. Operating funds primarily pay for teacher and employee salaries (which comprise 90% of RISD’s operating budget), utility costs, paper/school supplies, and other materials used as the district operates.
The Texas school finance system, under which the state sets the operating portion of RISD’s property tax rate, does not allocate additional operating funds to school districts with the expectation or intention that districts be able to regularly use funds for capital items like construction. Some school districts are able to periodically use one time surplus operating funds to pay for one time capital expenses. This can happen when an urgent capital need arises that was not foreseen during bond planning (for example HVAC equipment for a school if the current aging equipment stops working and cannot be repaired). While individual projects or purchases may be funded in times of need, the Texas school finance system is not set up or intended for operating funds to pay for all capital needs.
Instead, Texas law provides the bond issuance mechanism for school districts to address ongoing capital needs, if approved by voters in the community. Under state law, the funds generated from the debt service portion of a school district’s tax rate may only be used to repay (or service) bonds that have been issued. School districts may not use funds generated from the debt service portion of the tax rate for any other purpose. Therefore, school districts could not use such funds to directly pay for construction, equipment or any other capital items without issuing bonds. Changing this system would require a change in state law.
21. Given the current credit rating and indebtedness in RISD, what is the maximum amount that RISD is eligible to borrow at this time? What is the maximum amount that RISD can borrow without raising the tax rate?
The maximum amount would involve raising the debt service tax rate to $0.50 from the current $0.35 level. This amount was not calculated or considered. It was an important consideration during the bond planning process that the tax rate would not be raised if Bond 2021 were to be approved, so that was a factor in limiting projects in the propositions to the level that could be serviced by the existing tax rate. RISD has the capacity to service new bonds totaling $750 million over the next five years without raising the tax rate.
22. When the bond steering committee put together the estimated costs for items in the bond issue, what is the percentage used for padding/contingency factors for items?
RISD uses a 10% escalation factor for bond project estimates, which is standard for many districts and based on current and expected economic conditions.
23. If the bond passes, how many bids will be solicited for each line item on the bond issue? Is the winning bid determined only by cost?
RISD follows Texas law related to bid solicitations for purchases and manages that through our Purchasing Department. As bids are solicited, the number of responses typically vary depending on the items/project. If RISD is not satisfied with the number or quality of bids for any item or project, there is no obligation to accept a bid and the project or item may be re-bid as many times as necessary at the district’s discretion. While cost is a very important factor for bids, other factors the district considers (under Texas law) include:
- The reputation of the vendor and of the vendor’s goods or services.
- The quality of the vendor’s goods or services.
- The extent to which the goods or services meet the District’s needs.
- The vendor’s past relationship with the District.
- The long-term cost to the district to acquire the goods or services.
- Any other relevant factor specifically listed in the solicitation.
24. Each item in the bond has an estimated cost. If the actual cost is less than the estimated cost, does the excess go for unnamed projects or is it used to reduce the debt service?
Dollar amounts for items included in the bond are estimates. Traditionally some projects come in higher and some come in lower than estimated. These pricing differences can be due to economic conditions or quantities needed may increase or decrease. The District normally spends all bond proceeds on approved items. Under Texas law, RISD could not spend bond funds on unnamed projects not included in the proposition. If approved, the entire amount of the bond propositions would not be issued at one time, and issuances would be spread out through the five year window as bond projects and purchases are made and managed through the five years. If excess bond funds are available at the end of the five year widow, the district would use them to further pay down the principal of outstanding bonds and reduce future interest costs.
25. The annual tax statement from RISD does not show any line items. For transparency, could RISD update the tax statement to show one line item for operational costs and another line item for debt service like other taxing entities do?
RISD’s tax statements are consistent with many public entities. RISD is committed to financial transparency and comprehensive information related to RISD’s operational costs and expenditures related to debt service are publicly available on RISD’s website. Stakeholders may review current and past year operating budgets, current and past year comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs), and up to date data on outstanding debt, previous debt service payments and the schedule for future payments. RISD financial data is available here.
26. How much money has been spent on bond informational materials like signs, flyers, banners, mailers, etc? Where do those funds come from?
There are specific laws and requirements for school districts to share information to their constituents about a bond election. They include Texas Education Code, chapter 45, Government Code, chapters 1201 through 1208 and Government Code, chapter 1251.
The following expenses have been paid from the district’s maintenance and operations budget specifically for Bond 2021 informational signs, flyers, banners, mailers, etc:
Signs – $24,006
Fliers – $2,707
Banners – $2,977
Mailer – $34,049
Ads – $1,204
Part of the Texas election requirements include a newspaper advertisement with specific election information. The required Dallas Morning News advertisement from April 11 cost $65,260.00.
27. Can you provide information on the process that is used to come up with estimated costs for construction projects?
The estimated costs were determined in the bond planning process based on an estimator associated with a general construction contractor. The actual cost for construction projects would not be known until the district completes a full bidding process for each construction project in accordance with Texas law. RISD utilizes a construction manager at risk model with a guaranteed maximum price for construction projects and actual cost to the district cannot exceed the contracted bid amount for a construction project.
28. If the bond does not pass, would the debt service tax rate eventually go down? If so, when would that occur? What will the tax rate be if the bond does not pass? How much would the average homeowner save in annual taxes if the bond didn’t pass?
The debt service tax rate is set by RISD trustees, and RISD would continue with aggressive efforts to pay off existing debt to reduce interest costs. RISD’s outstanding debt from previous bond packages have final maturities in approximately the year 2044. In a scenario where Bond 2021 and all subsequent bond propositions are not approved, then the debt service tax rate would eventually begin to decrease over a period of years.
The timing and level of a debt service rate decrease is difficult to predict, but if the current bond does not pass, followed by subsequent bonds not passing, the current $0.35 debt service tax rate could begin to gradually reduce starting approximately in 2022 or 2023, and go down over a period of about 20 years. There would be no immediate decrease in the debt service tax rate or tax savings for taxpayers. As the debt service tax rate begins to decrease, the tax savings is $6.50 per $100,000 of taxable value (of a residence homestead) for each penny decrease in the tax rate.
29. Would Bond 2021 be a tax increase? Not a tax rate increase, but a tax increase?
If Bond 2021 is approved, it would not cause the amount of taxes a taxpayer pays to increase, because the tax rate would remain the same. So if the taxes on any individual property were to increase or decrease next tax year, Bond 2021 would not be the reason. The reason RISD has emphasized the tax rate in bond information materials is because the debt service tax rate is the factor that RISD and voters control that impacts how much taxes a property owner actually pays each year. But there is another main factor that determines if taxes increase or decrease, and that’s a change in the appraised value of the property. Any change in the appraised value of a property is unrelated to RISD or the bond, and is different for each residential and commercial taxpayer. Please see separate FAQ #6 for more information.
The District’s financial model is based on the premise that overall property values will increase. However, individual commercial and residential property tax payers will likely see different impacts on their tax bills based on valuation by the Dallas Central Appraisal District.
If Bond 2021 and/or subsequent future bond propositions are not approved, the debt service tax rate would eventually be reduced. The issuance of any additional bonds, regardless of whether it raises, lowers or doesn’t affect the tax rate, is defined by some as a tax increase. Please see separate FAQ #5 for more information.
30. What growth is embedded in property values to maintain no changes to the tax rate? How much is due to new construction compared to increases in existing appraised values? If property values grow faster than anticipated, what would the district do?
The assumptions associated with maintaining the existing tax rate if the bond is successful are available in the voter information documents on the Bond 2021 information site, and includes the projected assessed value of the district growing at a rate of 2.50% per year for the first year and then 1.00% thereafter for the remaining life of the bonds. The assumptions are very conservative, which is why RISD is confident that the additional bonds can be serviced at the existing tax rate (see separate video).
As a landlocked district, RISD’s growth in taxable value is almost entirely based on changes in appraised values of current properties. The property value growth estimates were developed on a macro level and did not focus on individual market segments. The short and long term impact on the market for office space remains to be seen with COVID causing many employers to rethink their work from home policies. This shift is also impacting home buying decisions, causing relocations from high cost cities to lower cost cities. As with past bonds, if property value growth exceeds projections, RISD would use any excess debt service funds generated to pay down existing debt more quickly, saving future interest costs and creating capacity for future bond elections.
31. Is there any connection between any bond expenditure (including a school rebuild or school renovation) and a homeowner’s property values?
No, there is no correlation or impact between any bond expenditure, or any tax rate, and the appraised value of a property. The entity that determines property values (DCAD) is unrelated to and independent of RISD or any other taxing entity. (See separate FAQ 6 for more information).
32. Will whatever funds RISD eventually receives from the federal COVID Relief Packages be used for the items in the bond propositions?
Texas school districts, including RISD, are expecting to eventually receive some level of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Education to the state of Texas as part of the three, major COVID relief bills passed by Congress. The use of any ESSER funds that RISD may receive is limited to address the academic and social/emotional impact of the pandemic on students. ESSER funds may not be used for construction or renovation, and the primary use would be for operating expenditures related to additional educators and academic programs.
RISD has not yet received any ESSER funds and neither the state of Texas or the U.S. Dept. of Education has provided RISD with an amount of ESSER funds to expect or a timeline of when funds might be provided.
On April 19, RISD presented a two year accelerated learning plan to address the academic and engagement impact of the pandemic on RISD students. The intent of the plan is for it to be partially or fully funded by whatever ESSER funds RISD eventually receives.
33. Are RISD bond interest payments and principal repayments paid for with any funds other than RISD property tax?
No, only funds generated through the debt service tax rate are used to repay bonds. The Texas school finance system is not designed to provide funding for debt service payments (see FAQ 20 for more information), and it is not legal for federal funds to be used for that purpose.
34. What exactly is the local optional homestead exemption and why don't most other school districts offer it anymore?
The local optional homestead exemption is a way for school districts to offer a tax reduction to residential homeowners who live in their home (which includes most of the residential properties in RISD). It allows those eligible taxpayers to reduce the taxable appraised value of their home by an additional 10%. Which reduces the amount of taxes due on a home. RISD is one of three remaining school districts (among the 28 districts in Dallas and Collin counties) to still offer taxpayers a LOHE.
Most school districts have stopped offering it (or have never offered it) because it costs school districts money to do so. Offering the LOHE reduces RISD’s operating and debt service property tax revenue as well as reduces the state funding RISD receives.
35. Is any part of the 2021 bond issue planned as re-issue at current low interest rates of older RISD bonds at higher interest rates?
Bond elections allow districts to incur new debt. Voter approval is not required to refinance (known as refunding with bonds) any existing debt, as its issuance was already approved by voters. RISD continually monitors market conditions and aggressively pursues debt refunding to save interest costs and be able to pay off bonds more quickly. Since 2010, RISD has saved more than $50 million in future interest costs through refunding debt. Most recently, in October 2020 RISD issued refunding bonds that resulted in $5.9 million of debt service savings and shortened the repayment period by two years.
1. When is Election Day?
Election Day is Saturday, May 1, 2021. Registered voters can vote early in person between April 19 and April 27. For more details, visit http://www.dallascountyvotes.org/
2. How do I register to vote?
New voters must register by April 1 through the Dallas County Elections Department.
Find the application and more information at http://www.dallascountyvotes.org/voter-information/register-to-vote/.
All registered voters in RISD are eligible to vote in the May 1 election. Find out if you are registered using the Dallas County online voter lookup tool.
3. Can RISD conduct its own election without using Dallas County Elections?
No. Texas law requires school districts to conduct joint elections. All school districts, cities, and special districts in Dallas County contract with Dallas County to conduct trustee, city council, and/or bond elections.