State of the Schools – Stafford’s school district under construction with bond funds

By Elsa Maxey

Stafford’s Municipal School District’s operating highlights are part of this year’s state of the schools presentations organized by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. “It remains the only municipal school district in Texas,” said its new Superintendent Lance Hindt, who was hired to head the school district this past spring. He told the ballroom packed audience of community leaders at a luncheon at the Sugar Land Marriott this month that the school board and city council have a unique relationship since they work together.

“Stafford provides facilities and the financial support to the school district,” said Hindt. The school district’s surplus budget and break-even point is a testament to the school board, the city council and the community, he said. The Staffod MSD, “a 3A school district with a 5A curriculum,” provides free after school programs for K-8th graders, has career bridge counselors for the secondary students, offers SAT college entrance exams to all high school juniors at no cost, has a 22:1 student/teacher ratio, and does not concern itself with rezoing transportation issues. The school district’s students enjoy door-to-door, air conditioned bus service to and from school available even for those in after school, extra-curricular programs.

Wearing a hard hat to make it known that some of the district’s 77-acre complex campuses are under construction, Hindt said that an overwhelming majority, 70 percent of the voters, recently passed a $49.9 million bond referendum in May. Among the district’s vision plan for the use of the bond funds are 10 new classrooms for a dual language program, which includes Chinese and English and Vietnamese and English.

Hindt told the audience he was going back to his teacher roots and solicited their participation as he shared more hard numbers about the operation of the school district. Its property tax rate of $1.22, “is the lowest tax rate in the Houston area,” he said. Homeowners in Stafford have a 20 percent local homestead exemption in the only city in Texas that has no city property tax.

The Stafford school district is rated as a Academically Acceptable school district, and all its schools met federal average yearly progress benchmarks as part of the 2011 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, reported Hindt. A total of $2.5 million was awarded in scholarships to graduating seniors this past year.

True to form, Hindt assigned homework at the end of his presentation and invited audience participants to visit the school campuses and/or the district’s website. To formally welcome Hindt to the school district, a welcoming reception is planned in his honor on October 6 hosted by the City of Stafford and the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.

The article is the second of a series of three relating to the state of the schools presentations this month. The third and final article will be about the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District.

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