Devine ISD hosted an informational town hall meeting on April 4, 2019 about a $13.8 Million Dollar Bond details they are taking to the voters on May 4. Slideshows were presented by Superintendent Scott Sostarich and the architects and then the floor was open to questions by the public. About 15 people were in attendance in addition to DISD staff members
The slideshow included the financial status of the district, the anticipated projects, and the impact on annual/monthly taxes showing the impact of cost to taxpayers monthly over the first few years of the 30 year projected bond.
Financial Status- Fund Balance as of 6/30/2018 in General Fund is $9 Million ($9,020,405) and Debt Service Fund is $450,830. TEA First Rating is 100/Superior. Debt Retired in 2018: 2003 $1,000,000 QZAB (M&O), 2009 $3,045,000 Bond. Recently refunded bonds: 2015 $5,040,000 refunded 2008 bond for a savings of $954,693; 2017 $5,360,000 refunded 2010 bond for a savings of $348,896.
I&S Tax Rate Impact: For a $200,000 appraised value home would with $25,000 homestead exemption would cost the taxpayer an additional $143.15 in taxes in 2020, then a cumulative tax increase cost of $284.03 in 2021; then a cumulative tax increase cost of $257.43 in 2022 a slight decrease if State Aid projection comes through. The next 27 years of tax impact of the 30 year life of the bond will be affected by any future bonds voted in or debts retired or refunded.
Anticipated Projects of the $13,980,000 Bond:
Aging Facitlities-10 (maybe 11) elementary classrooms, 8 new tennis courts.
Safety & Security- New elementary offices, renovation to intermediate office, relocate high school office.
Capacity- Middle School locker room expansion, elementary gym, high school weight room
Elementary- $7,237,500 classrooms, gym, new offices
High School- $2,200,00 relocate offices, new entrance, new weight room, new elevator
Tennis- $1,650,000 Eight new tennis courts
Intermediate- $510,000 reconfigure entrance
Middle School- $780,000 locker rooms
Total Bond – $13,980,000 impact on taxes
Some of the questions and answers from the meeting included the following:
Hank Seay questions :
“What’s driving the(need) for new elementary school?
Where is the growth?
Why are you are not sure if you are building 10 or 11 classrooms?
When we moved here I was told the 7th grade class was the biggest class and around 180, but not I hear as sophomores it is down closer to 150 three years later?
Why can’t you just buy more portables?
You said you have 9 million in the General Fund, why not try to help the taxpayers and use part of the general fund, cash on hand, and go for a smaller bond? I understand you have to have3 months in reserves, and need a new high school roof for $1 million, why are we not looking at that with the bond?
Is the bond all or nothing, or like some in the past only if projected funds come in? If the bond is shot down can you get a workshop together for input, I don’t think you are going to get it right without input from the community!”
Drugs- I don’t see anything with the bond addressing the drug problems. And it needs to be addressed. All I see is fencing that the kids can pull open by jerking real hard on the gate, it’s not functional. One jerk and it opens, really, or a back pack thrown over the fence and it opens!”
Answer by Supt. Sostarch: “We certainly need to check on that. Listed on our priorities is safety and security. The bond is all or nothing. We will build based on priorities of safety and security . $65,000 was donated by the PTO years ago to help build a gym. The tennis courts and the gym will probably be last to be built. We can talk more later.
Trey Flores questions: “Parking on the other side of the new tennis courts, what are we looking at? If you take away all that parking in the area of the trees where are people going to park for football games? It is already overcrowded and not enough parking.
Supt. Sostarich: “We have not done a complete analysis, trees will have to go, no study has been done yet, as that is not part of this bond. Just a suggestion for later.”
Onis Wiemers: “Safety, baseball and foul balls, I’m concerned about the safety of the tennis players having the courts so close. Will the tennis players have to wear batting helmets? Have y’all looked at building the fence higher at the baseball field or at the new courts?”
Supt. Sostarich: We just thought about that. Actually the hardest I have been hit was by a tennis ball to the head, so we might have to worry about the baseball players getting hit as well”.
Wiemers: “How often do we make a master plan? You refer to the last one being done in 2010, so if they are done every 10 years why not wait for 2020 and asses the needs of the district of a current master plan and then put out a bond election? That would make more sense than using 10 year old information.
Trey Flores questions: “There has been a lot of growth and success in the band, they are winning and gaining steam, but the band hall is so crowded , they have run out of space with 350 kids in the program. It’s been a long time since they got some relief. The 6th graders are having to meet in portables, they are so crowded. When are you going to address the needs of the band? ”
Supt. Sostarich: “At some point we are going to have to look at that”.
Bonnie Manning question: When I graduated in 2009 the new weight room had just been built not that long ago. How much is another new weight room going to cost the taxpayers? There are many young couples like us who have new mortgages and want what is best for our kids, but what we the taxpayers can afford!
Answer: The new weight room will cost approximately $375,000 to $400,000 dollars. The weight room to be added will be 2,500 sq feet and house the equipment from both weight rooms, so the old weight room can be used for inclement weather training. It is overcrowded and once they get the equipment out of there and replace the old green carpet (Astroturf), it will give them much more room to train in during inclement weather. The weight room is overcrowded with 100 kids using it, last period has 230 middle school kids alone.
Misty Houston: Who is the ‘we’ you keep refer to on the master plan committee? Who are they, when do they meet?
Answer: We looked at the things first that were left over from the 2010 survey and addressed those. Safety and security is a priority and the Governor is stressing safety as well.
Houston: “Are these recommendations or things we have to do?”
Answer: Recommendations, you should be able to see them online at texas.gov or stop by my office and I will be glad to show you a copy.
These are a handful of the questions and answers from the meeting. More questions and answers will be available next week. The next town hall meeting is April 25 at 6:30 pm at DSAC right before the middle school play at 7:00 p.m. Last meeting is May 2. Public is invited to attend and be informed.
See page 5 of this week’s Devine News for a public notice which has the exact wording that voters will see on the ballot and dates and time for early and day of voting.
By Kathleen Calame