FBISD board discusses possible $333.4M bond
By Betsy Dolan
The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees reviewed a nine year plan to prioritize the district’s capital needs and appears to be moving forward with plans to call a $333.4 million bond election in November to help pay for the first three years of that plan.
The Capital Master Plan was created using the facilities master plan, portions of the technology plan and the safety and security plan. November’s bond election, if approved, will cover most of the cost of Phase 1 which includes:
• $279.8 million in construction
• $65.7 million for technology infrastructure upgrades
• $34 million for security and safety
• $15.7 million for transportation
• $18.4 million for land
• $19.2 million for athletics, white fleet vehicle replacements, energy conservation & bond support.
The bulk of the Phase 1 spending will come from construction and land costs. Fort Bend ISD says they will need four new elementary schools in the next three years–one in Aliana and Riverstone and two others in the northern and eastern parts of the district.
In addition, four elementary schools–Schiff, Holley, Cornerstone and Palmer–would get $10.4 million in additions to help ease overcrowding.
“We want to get ahead of the district’s growth as much as possible”, said Superintendent Charles Dupre. “We do not want another experience like Oakland and Commonwealth (Elementaries). We need to have the schools in reserve or building additions ready to go”.
The district also calls on spending over $66 million on technology infrastructure, including deployment of a wireless network. The board will get additional details when the technology plan is presented on June 23.
A large piece of the $34 million in security spending will go toward purchasing security cameras district wide. In addition, the district will install security vestibules in schools that don’t currently have them, acquire several emergency generators, purchase additional security fencing and upgraded communication devices.
$15.7 in transportation would cover bus cameras, global positioning systems and new school buses.
The administration discussed plans to use available funding sources for the capital plan, including over $30 million of unspent funds from past bonds and $63 million of unissued, but authorized funds from the 2007 Bond that were allocated for buses and two schools. The administration also shared plans to identify available operating funds to address the replacement of computers and other technology purchases of equipment with short life-spans.
“Fort Bend ISD will be able to handle the bond’s additional debt for Phase One without requiring an increase in the tax rate, which could be realized with additional assessed value growth of seven percent for the next four years. This growth includes the value of new residential construction and development”, said Chief Financial Officer, Steve Bassett.
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