The Richardson ISD board of trustees heard Monday night from members of the community bond steering committee, who recommended a $750 million bond package be placed before voters in May.
The committee consisted of 50 stakeholders and began meeting last year to provide facility, equipment and infrastructure 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.
This bond package “would give teachers the ability to do what they were hired to do, which is to teach students … not to fix things and hobble along until it gets better,” said committee member Herschel Acosta, a civil engineer with students at Wallace Elementary.
The committee members emphasized that the bond package would not result in an increase to the district’s tax rate. RISD levies a combined operating and debt service tax rate of $1.40 per $100 of taxable assessed value on residential property within the district.
Because some of the bond proceeds would fund technology upgrades, the potential bond package would be split into two propositions under a new state law that mandates school districts place technology expenses into a separate bond proposition.
The steering committee members said the bond package is necessary for RISD to continue to provide a high level of instruction for students, accommodate current and projected enrollment growth in schools, stay competitive with surrounding school districts and ensure the next generation of students receives the quality education that RISD is known for.
Committee members shared that the 2021 bond package would lay the groundwork for the district’s decision to transform junior high schools into true middle schools by moving sixth grade out of elementary campuses and into new schools housing grades six, seven and eight. More than 95% of Texas school districts already utilize this middle school model, and the change will afford RISD sixth-graders additional academic and co-curricular opportunities.
Committee members stressed that most RISD schools were built between the 1950s and 1970s, and the district has reached the point where a program of replacement and substantial renovation of campuses should be undertaken.
“You’re going to see the impact of this bond in your kid’s school. You’re going to see it in the community. You’re going to see it at football games on Friday nights. You’re going to see it in the theater programs … at graduation,” committee member Megan Martin, an instructional coach at Forest Meadow Junior High, said during the presentation.
Trustees will now evaluate the recommendations. The board will vote on Feb. 8 on whether or not to place a bond package before RISD voters in May.