GISD bond in focus: School district to host first of series of public meetings

Brian Grubbs with SAMCO Capital Markets speaks to members of the Gainesville Independent School District Facilities Steering Committee at a meeting in December. The committee was put together to discuss potential bond options for the district.

The first of many public meetings about the Gainesville Independent School District’s proposed $35.1 million bond election is Thursday, March 12.

The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Gainesville ISD Auditorium, 1201 S. Lindsay St., according to a news release from the district.

“This a great opportunity for our public to not only hear the items proposed in the bond program, but it is also an opportunity for their questions to be addressed,” Superintendent DesMontes Stewart said Tuesday, March 10, about the importance of attending one of the informational meetings. “It also provides our stakeholders with an opportunity to gain an understanding of where we are going as a school system.”

All meetings will include a presentation by Stewart, according to the release.

Members of the district’s board of trustees unanimously approved calling for a May bond election during a specially called meeting Feb. 6.

If approved, the bond would cover expanding Robert E. Lee Intermediate, 2100 N. Grand Ave., for $13,013,400; expand W.E. Chalmers Elementary, 600 Radio Hill Road, for $12,781,954; and make various capital improvements throughout the district for $9,263,176, for a total of $35,058,530, according to a previous report in the Register.

Should the bond pass, Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, 1 Edison Drive, would be decommissioned from student use, officials said.

If voters approve the proposed $35.1 million bond, area residents would see a tax increase of about 14 cents, officials have said.

In August 2019, members of the Gainesville ISD board of trustees approved a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.07 and an interest and sinking rate of 8 cents bringing the district’s total tax rate to $1.15 per $100 of property valuation.

The M&O tax rate supports day-to-day operating expenses. The I&S tax funds the district’s debt obligations.

Gainesville ISD’s total outstanding debt, including principal and interest, is $35,567,279, according to Alyce Greer, the district’s finance director.

Additional meetings are scheduled for the same time and location as Thursday’s meeting and are set for March 24, March 26, April 2, April 7, April 9 and April 16, according to the release. Meetings on March 24 and April 7 are geared toward Spanish-speaking residents.

There are currently 2,981 students enrolled in the district, Stewart said Tuesday. Of those, 58% are Hispanic, he said.

Early voting for the Saturday, May 2, Uniform Election begins April 20. The election will cover nonpartisan positions at municipalities, school districts and special taxing districts.

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