It’s time. Members of the Gainesville Independent School District’s Facilities Steering Committee are expected to vote on a bond proposal recommendation to bring to members of the school district’s board of trustees.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, the FSC is scheduled to meet at the district’s administration building, 800 S. Morris St., and weigh in on the four options they discussed during a meeting Jan. 8.
The possible bond options the committee is to vote on are:
Option one: Expanding Robert E. Lee Intermediate, 2100 N. Grand Ave., for $13,013,400, expanding W.E. Chalmers Elementary, 600 Radio Hill Road, for $12,781,954 and to making various capital improvements throughout the district
for $12,980,208, for a total of $38,775,562.
Superintendent DesMontes Stewart said it is more cost-effective to turn Lee and Chalmers into K-5 campuses instead of rebuilding Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, 1 Edison Drive.
Stewart said Edison Elementary is nearly 60 years old. He said no programs would go away should Edison Elementary close.
The $13 million of potential capital improvements include adding security measures to buildings within the district and getting a new roof and HVAC for the junior high, according to information handed out to committee members.
Option two includes all of option one plus building a new auditorium for $15,170,856, bringing the overall cost of option two to $53,946,418.
The third option is to build a new junior high school for $68,624,491 and go with the capital improvements for a total of $81,604,699.
Option four is to go with the expansions of Lee and Chalmers and construct a new junior high for an overall total of $94,419,845.
All costs provided are estimates and may fluctuate, officials said.
Stewart did say the maximum bond the district can request is $92.5 million because of the state cap on the district’s interest and sinking portion of the tax rate at 50 cents. A $92.5 million bond would increase the I&S tax rate by 42 cents.
In August 2019, members of the Gainesville ISD board of trustees approved a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.07 and an I&S 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.
Stewart said once a decision is made by the committee, the committee’s co-chairs are to make a presentation to the school board. The school board will then have some time to think things over before the district calls a special meeting to vote on how to move forward.
School board members must make a decision by Friday, Feb. 14 in order for a bond election to occur in May, Stewart said.