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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Topics

What Happens Now?
General
Growth
Projects
Finance
Bond 2007


What Happens Now?

The Board of Trustees will discuss the sequence of projects from the bond and construction should start this spring.

What’s the latest on the district’s newest elementary school?
LISD will move quickly to hire contractors and set attendance zones for Elementary School 27. At the Nov. 16 regular board meeting, LISD’s demographer will present a final report that will include the location of that new school, which is slated to open in August 2019, the first of four new schools in four years.

Who will oversee the bond projects as they roll out?
The LISD Board of Trustees and LISD administration will immediately form a standing citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee to meet and to review the progress of projects from this bond package.

What about LISD’s needs that weren’t included in the bond?
Because LISD now has bond funding available to pay for growth, facility improvements and safety, the district expects to have greater flexibility in its maintenance budget throughout our schools. The district’s facilities and operations team will present a recommendation for the summer maintenance program.  The Bond Advisory Committee will plan and provide input for the projects on the next bond package. The committee will meet at least quarterly and make regular presentations to the Board of Trustees.

General

What is a bond?
A bond is a funding mechanism to finance eligible projects. School districts must ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors to raise money for capital projects including new construction, renovation or other improvements. Voters give the district permission to take out a loan to build and renovate and pay that loan back over a period of time.

How did the District determine what to include in this bond program?
Leander ISD utilized 155 community volunteers to serve on its Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) and its BAC steering committee from January 2017 - May 2017. That group reviewed demographic reports, long-term facility improvement plans, facilities, technology reports, and other resources to prioritize projects for a potential bond.

The BAC steering committee worked with LISD administration to present a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, a seven-member elected governing body. Trustees formed the final proposition and called for the election to address growth, safety, and facility improvements.

Can LISD use the bond to add teachers or increase salaries?
Bond funding can only be used for new construction, capital projects, land, technology, and any expenses directly related to bond program. The Maintenance and Operations (M&O) portion of a property owner's taxbill covers teacher salaries. M&O collections establish the state funding formula for school districts. While values increase, LISD is more dependent on local property taxes to fund operations while the state portion of its revenues decreases.

Election/Voting

When is the election?
Early voting is Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 10.

Who is eligible to vote?
Any registered voter in the Leander ISD attendance areas can vote in this election. Community members can visit https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov to verify if you are registered to vote.

Where can I vote?
The election will be hosted in partnership with Travis and Williamson counties. Please visit their websites for more information on voting dates, times and locations: Travis County & Williamson County.

Growth

How does LISD project enrollment?
LISD uses an independent demographer to project the enrollment growth.

How much growth is there in LISD?
LISD’s independent demographer projects about 1,200 additional students each year for the next four to five years, mostly in the northern part of the district from Bagdad Road to the Ronald Reagan corridor. This bond will fulfill the district’s need to address enrollment growth for the next four to five years. In addition to providing for construction of four new schools, it also will fund the planning, design, and land investments needed for several additional schools, with construction costs anticipated to be funded through future bond initiatives.

When will LISD need the next Bond?
If the enrollment projections are met, then LISD may need another bond election in four years.

Projects

When will the project for my neighborhood's/child's school be completed?
LISD staff is analyzing the projects and possible schedules. With the recent disaster with Hurricane Harvey, LISD staff is evaluating the impact of the availability of contractors and how that might impact the schedule of projects.

How does LISD plan for inflation/escalation with its projects?
LISD’s independent demographer projects about 1,200 additional students each year for the next four to five years, mostly in the northern part of the district from Bagdad Road to the Ronald Reagan corridor. This bond will fulfill the district’s need to address enrollment growth for the next four to five years. In addition to providing for construction of four new schools, it also will fund the planning, design, and land investments needed for several additional schools, with construction costs anticipated to be funded through future bond initiatives.

How does LISD set estimates for construction projects tied to the bond?
LISD uses partners in school construction from its internal staff and external firms to estimate costs for new construction. The costs are estimated based on square footage, location, and the start time of the project. Projects include inflation estimates, based on the projected start date for construction, to cover rising costs. Inflation, also known as escalation, is calculated by adding 6 percent to the project if it's one year out, an additional 5 percent for projects two years out, and an additional four percent for each year after that. For this bond, LISD added 11 percent (6 percent for 2017 and 5 percent for 2018) for inflation for projects starting in 2019, 15 percent (6 percent for 2017, 5 percent for 2018, and 4 percent for 2019) for 2020, and 19 percent (6 percent for 2017, 5 percent for 2018, 4 percent for 2019, and 4 percent for 2020) for 2021.

Finance

How will taxes be impacted by the bond, if approved?
LISD will not raise the tax rate. Due to a growing property tax base and forward-thinking debt management strategies, LISD will be able to manage this bond program through it's existing Interest and Sinking (I&S) rate of $.47187 per $100 valuation.

How can LISD afford a bond without adjusting the tax rate?
The debt service portion of LISD’s tax rate stands at $.47187. The district has utilized over-levies for a few years, which helps generate additional revenue that can be applied for early retirement of debt. The district’s projections are based on conservative projections and assumptions, and the strong, growing local tax base and current projections make raising the debt service tax rate unlikely for the duration of this bond.

How much of this bond will be funding through Capital Appreciation Bonds vs. Capital Interest Bonds?
LISD does not plan to use CABs for this bond. The debt life for all bonds will mirror the life of the asset. In the last two years, the district’s finance team and board worked to restructure its debt load to move away from CABs and more toward CIBs. The district refinanced a significant portion of its CABs to CIBs – a move that required successful advocacy at the Texas Attorney General’s Office. As a result, the district has reduced its CAB exposure from 78 percent to 49 percent, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The district is aggressively pursuing opportunities to get that to 25 percent by 2025.

How will LISD payoff this additional debt?
LISD strategically sells bonds to match the start of a project and the life of the facility, system, or technology being purchased. Technology and buses will be financed over three to five years, building improvements over 20 years, and new construction over 30 years. Bonds will not be sold until LISD is ready to commence a project.

How are schools funded?
There are essentially two tax rates that are paid by Leander ISD property owners that comprise the local share of district funds.

The Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Tax Rate pays for day-to-day operational expenses, such as salaries, employee benefits, supplies, transportation, fuel, insurance, maintenance and utilities.

The Interest and Sinking (I&S) Tax Rate is based on the outstanding debt of the district. Debt is incurred when a district borrows money in the form of bonds in the same way a homeowner borrows money to finance the purchase of a home. It pays for design, construction, expansion and renovation of schools. These CAPITAL (BOND) FUNDS can also be used for large or long-term expenditures, such as the purchase of school buses or technology.

CAPITAL FUNDS and OPERATING FUNDS are separated intentionally to meet different needs as described above. By law, the two must be kept in separate accounts and they are audited every year to ensure compliance.

Why is funding for band instruments not included in the bond package?
The district continues to allocate funding for band equipment in its annual budget. In the past, we may have used bond funds for those items, but in recent years the funding has come from the general operating fund. In total, the Bond Advisory Committee (BAC), comprised of 155 community volunteers through the district, brought $1.2 billion worth of projects to be considered. A steering committee and the board of trustees focused the bond, going before voters, on growth, safety, and facility improvements. The improvements were limited to equity between schools and for funding projects that were must needs for operating schools.

How much does the state of Texas and the federal government pay toward building new facilities or improving existing schools in Leander ISD?
The state does not fund school construction, safety enhancements or building improvements in LISD. All funds for school sites and construction are funded locally.

Bond 2007

How did LISD utilize the land purchases from Bond 2007 and where does the district still have available land?
LISD purchased property for six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Three of the six elementary school sites will be used for the next three elementary schools, which will require voter approval of the upcoming bond election.For middle school sites, LISD currently has 4 future middle school sites. The 2015-16 Demographic Update shows one of the middle school sites will be used for LISD’s ninth middle school, which will be near Tom Glenn High School. A second middle school site will be used for LISD’s tenth middle school, which is near Reed Elementary School. One of the remaining middle school sites will either be re-purposed or sold, as it is not the best location for a middle school, based on changes in the demographics and availability of other district-owned land. The HS7 site included an MS site on it, but might be repurposed for other needs, thus the need to add MS11 site into the 2017 bond package. The high school site is near 2243 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard, slated for the seventh high school, projected to be needed in 2024. All of the timing of schools is subject to change.

What did the Trustees fund through re-allocations and why were projects adjusted from Bond 2007?
The Board of Trustees reallocated funding originally planned for Elementary School #27 to fund additional Career and Technical Education (CTE) classrooms at Cedar Park and Vista Ridge high schools, a new front entrance and additional classrooms at Leander High School, and secure vestibules at elementary schools across LISD. The Board also funded additional school facility improvements, technology, and a future transportation facility in the southern part of the district with funds saved by projects finishing under budget. The district maintains about $18 million in leftover funding from the Bond 2007 program. The Board will determine how to use those funds based on the outcome of the Nov. 7 bond election.