Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question about the May 2017 Bond Election? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is a bond?
A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to competing lenders to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance renovations and new facilities.
2. How can bond funds be used?
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel and insurance.
3. What is a bond election?
School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise the capital dollars required for projects such as renovation to existing buildings or building a new school. Essentially, the voters are giving permission for the District to take out a loan and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed facility projects.
4. Exactly how much is the proposed bond package?
The Board of Trustees called a bond election in the amount of $275 million to be brought before voters on May 6, 2017.
5. How was the bond package developed?
A Facilities & Growth Planning Committee was established to review and prioritize district needs relating to student population growth, building age, safety and conditions, and evolving educational deliveries and program needs. The Committee represented a broad cross section of the community, including parents, community constituents, and campus and district staff.
The committee met 10 times from July 2016 through January 2017. Upon completion of the Committee’s analysis, a recommendation was presented to the Board of Trustees on January 24, 2017.
6. How will the proposed bond election affect my taxes?
If voters approve the bond election, the estimated tax impact of this bond is anticipated to be 3 cents for a total tax rate of $1.54. This represents an increase of approximately $4.38 per month on a home valued at $200,000.
7. How do I calculate my personal tax impact for the bond package?
To calculate your personal tax impact from the bond package, divide the taxable value of your property (less homestead exemptions) by 100. Then, multiply that number by .03 for the annual impact of the total bond proposal. You can also use the tax calculator on the Tax Information page to calculate your personal tax impact.
8. What if I am over 65 years old? Will my taxes go up if the bond is successful?
No. If you have applied for and received the Age 65 Freeze on your homestead, by law, your school taxes cannot be raised
above their frozen level.
9. What if I am over 65 years old and receive the “Senior Citizen Exemption” and my home value goes up, will my taxes increase?
The appraised value can change and the tax rate will change, but the amount of school taxes on your homestead cannot increase. Normal repairs, maintenance and the economic impact of the market cannot increase the amount of taxes you will pay once a tax ceiling is in place on that homestead. Therefore, if this bond election is successful, it will not have an impact on the tax bill for homesteads that are receiving the senior citizen exemption, unless you make significant improvements to your home.
10. Who is eligible to vote in this election?
Any registered voter that resides within the school district boundaries.
11. Can I still register to vote in the election?
The deadline for voter registration is April 6, 2017. If you are not registered to vote by this deadline, then you are not eligible to vote
in this election. The Texas Voter Registration Application can be found online here, or applications can be picked up at any Post Office, Library or DPS location.
12. After I have registered, when will I receive my Voter Registration Certificate?
You should receive a Voter Registration Certificate within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring your certificate to your local polling place if you have it. However, all that is required is a valid driver’s license.
13. What are the implications of raising the I&S tax rate to 50 cents?
Several things will affect the ultimate increase to the tax rate:
An increase of 3 cents for a $275,000,000 bond election is based on very conservative assumptions for all of these factors. One or more could bring the tax rate in lower and therefore leave additional tax rate and bonding capacity. The rate needed to generate the funds for the district to meet its debt obligations is reviewed and set annually.
14. Why are athletics included in the bond proposal?
As part of Vision 2020, it is a Mansfield guiding statement for all students to participate in an extra or co-curricular activity. We believe athletics is part of providing our students a quality, well-rounded selection of opportunities and that participation increases student engagement and, ultimately, academic success. Mansfield prides itself on high achieving student athletes who are recognized for their performance on and off the court.
Number of Students receiving scholarships = 119
$890,087 Academic Scholarships annually over 4 years = $3,560,348
$1,385,170 Athletic Scholarships annually over 4 years = $5,540,680
Total of $2,275,257 scholarship money for 2017 school year – total over 4 years = $9,104,628
As the district grows and the successes in our athletic programs grow, so does the demand for participation. In the 2016-17 school year, there are 3,307 students participating in at least one athletic program in grades 9-12, 30.3% of high school students.
These enrollment numbers have caused us to outgrow our existing facilities. Currently, several athletic programs do not have designated locker room space, and training and weight rooms are undersized for today’s program enrollment, limiting access and causing scheduling issues.
By adding a new multipurpose building with locker rooms, weight room, training and team room, we will be providing each high school with much needed space to adequately accommodate its athletic programs. In addition, by moving student athletes and programs into the new building, capacity in the existing buildings will be freed up to create equitable spaces for all programs. The new building will be utilized by all programs and will include a shelled-in second story for future expansion. This space will immediately be able to be utilized for additional program space such as indoor batting cages, additional team meeting space, mat room, or storage.
Additional athletic facility improvements included in the bond proposal address aging conditions of existing spaces and include replacing or upgrading infrastructure that has been identified as deficient.
15. Why are the costs for the new proposed schools more than the schools we built in the 2011 bond?
The proposed budgets for the new schools in the May 2017 bond are as follows:
New Elementary School: $29,450,000
New Intermediate School: $51,100,000
New Middle School: $62,750,000
These new campuses are larger than the schools built in the 2011 bond and have some additional changes that require additional costs. The new elementary school is proposed to serve 900 elementary students and is 24,400 square feet larger than the elementary campuses built in the 2011 bond. Our new school designs will include more collaboration space and need additional classrooms and larger core spaces, like the cafeteria and library, to accommodate the increase in students served. The new intermediate school and the new middle school are proposed to serve 1,200 students each. This is 200 students larger than our standard intermediate and middle school. Even though these two schools serve the same number of students, the new middle school will be larger and include additional amenities that are not required at the intermediate level, hence the cost difference. Beginning at the middle school level, students participate in extracurricular programs and elective courses, including fine arts and athletics, making these facilities much more complex.
When the Facilities & Growth Planning Committee studied the District’s projected growth, they chose to recommend building the new schools for a larger capacity in order to better match the student population in the southern area of our district, knowing this would help delay future construction.
We also want to make you aware of building code changes that have occurred since the 2011 bond that affect the cost of the proposed schools. The 2015 International Building Code now requires that public schools built under the new code include a tornado shelter large enough to house the entire capacity of the school population. The costs for the proposed new schools include the cost to construct a tornado shelter as part of the building. This cost did not have to be included in the 2011 bond.
It is also important to note that these are turnkey budgets that account for much more than just the cost to construct the school. They include everything that the district should need to spend to get the schools up and running. The budgets for the new schools are based on the program of spaces (what is to be included in the buildings) and the level of quality and material types (50 to 75 year building). In addition to the construction cost, the total budget amount also includes escalation to account for rise in construction costs between now and when the project actually bids. It also accounts for soft costs like, contingency, fees, permits, and surveying costs, and for everything to outfit the building including, furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Just like costs for other goods and services rise from year to year due to inflation, so does the construction market. A recent report by the Association for Learning Environments collected data from over 100 school construction projects in the North Texas region. That data is included here and shows that construction costs have increased on average 11% each year for the past two years.
Therefore, when you compare these proposed budgets to the final construction costs of the 2011 bond schools, it is not comparing apples to apples.
Lastly, remember these are planning budgets. Should the bond election be successful, the design phase for the new schools would be completed and the projects will be competitively bid to multiple contractors to assure that the district is getting the best value.
16. Why isn’t there more money proposed for Fine Arts? What have we done for these programs?
MISD was able to focus on addressing additional fine arts space and creating equitable fine arts spaces with funds from the 2006 and 2011 bond programs. MISD constructed the $42 million Center for the Performing Arts and built additional band halls at the middle and intermediate schools. With these new and expanded spaces, MISD has been able to drastically expand fine arts programming.
MISD’s fine arts programs have been expanded to include:
• All district 2nd graders see live performance of Texas Ballet Theater (production in English and Spanish)
• All district 3rd graders see live performance of the Fort Worth Opera
• All district 4th graders see live performance of the Fort Worth Symphony
• All district 5th graders see live performance of Mainstage Classic Theater
• All 6-8th grade choir students see live performance of Myth Busters (a program from FW Opera to connect and relate opera music to current musical interests; next year’s program will be from Dallas Opera)
• Middle and High School band students see the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra (also a free community concert in the evening; next year’s program will be with Mansfield Wind Symphony)
• Middle School theater students attend High School theater productions
In addition, the Center for the Performing Arts hosts an Art Residency program for local artists (2-3 shows a year), an Elementary Art Show and Secondary Art Show, UIL music competitions, and allows for special needs adults to attend and enjoy productions. MISD has begun a concert series with Kirk Franklin, where our students get to perform with Grammy Award winning musicians, and annual elementary choir performances with the Lot Downtown.
Recently, MISD has started an orchestra program and is investing in this program beginning with 5th graders and it will be expanded all the way through the high school level. The Facilities & Growth Planning Committee studied the orchestra program and its potential facility needs. It was decided to allow this program to grow, evolve and receive student demand before investing taxpayer dollars in additional permanent structures.
Additional plans to expand our fine arts programs include working to partner with the Van Cliburn Foundation for our orchestra students, and working to partner with the Dallas Black Dance Company.
17. Appraised property values continue to increase. Shouldn’t this mean MISD is receiving more money in taxes? Can’t the district operate within its current tax rate?
MISD is able to both run the daily operations of the school district and meet its current debt obligations within its current tax rate of $1.51 per $100 of assessed property value. These local resources make up approximately 51% of the school district’s operating budget. The district also receives approximately 39% of its budget through state funding and 10% of its budget through federal funding, which is designated for special programs.
The local tax rate is comprised of two different components. The Maintenance and Operations tax rate (M&O), which funds daily costs and recurring or consumable expenditures such as teacher and staff salaries, supplies, food, gas and utilities. Approximately 85 percent of the district’s M&O budget goes to teacher and staff salaries. The second component is the Interest and Sinking tax rate (I&S), also known as Debt Service, and that is solely used to repay debt for longer-term capital improvements approved by voters through bond elections. I&S funds cannot by law be used to pay M&O expenses, which means that voter-approved bonds cannot be used to increase teacher salaries or pay rising costs for utilities and services.
MISD receives state funding through the Foundation School Program which sets funding levels for each school district based on their “wealth per student.” It is meant to ensure that all school districts, regardless of property wealth, receive substantially equal access to similar revenue per student at similar tax effort. Therefore, when the District’s local revenues go up from increased property value, its state funding goes down to equalize the wealth per student. So even though your home value goes up and it seems like the school district should be receiving more money, it’s not the case.
Though we are not certain until certified values are received, higher valuations could result in a lesser impact to the tax rate for this bond proposal. The current estimates being communicated for the May 2017 bond election, an impact of three cents to the I&S tax rate, are based on conservative assumptions. The calculations assume 6% growth in property values the first year of issuing bonds, with decreasing growth every year thereafter. Early reports suggest our property values will see higher growth. If that is the case, the tax increase could be less than what is being communicated. However, without final confirmation, it is our responsibility to be conservative in what we communicate to voters.
Similarly, for the 2011 bond, an increase to 50 cents for the I&S tax rate was projected during the election. That was realized for one year in 2013, then decreased to 48 cents the following two years, and to 47 cents for every year since because of growth in property values and bond refunding opportunities.
So, with the school district maintaining the same “wealth per student” for the operations of the school district, which is primarily staff driven, the district must use debt in the forms of bonds to address additional needs like new schools and major capital improvements.
MISD maintains and operates 54 sites with approximately 70 separate structures that make up 7,237,915 square feet of district facilities. MISD spends almost $3 million out of its annual budget on maintenance for all these facilities. This covers basic upkeep and repairs. However, buildings age and have lifecycle costs just like your home. New roofs, HVAC equipment, updates in codes and standards, are costly items that do not fit in the district’s annual operating budget without sacrificing other things like salaries and student programs.
The district is also adding several hundred new students each year, equating to a projected 3,000 additional students in the next five years. Even though the district receives the additional “wealth per student” for these new students, it is not enough to cover construction of new schools or classrooms. It only provides the funds necessary to maintain the operating budget for these new students.
Mansfield ISD prides itself on high standards of financial transparency and responsible stewardship.
The district has been fiscally responsible through the refunding of its bonds, saving taxpayers a total of approximately $63.1 million. MISD also has no capital appreciation bonds (CABs), which many other fast-growing districts have accrued. The interest on a CAB keeps compounding until payment is due, causing the interest-to-principal payback ratio to be significantly higher than traditional bonds.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International has awarded the Mansfield Independent School District its Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for having met or exceeded the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability.
Early Voting: April 24 – May 2, 2017 | Election Day: May 6, 2017 | Register to vote by April 6, 2017.
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