Comal Independent School District trustees received an update on the 2021 bond from Superintendent Andrew Kim during Thursday’s board meeting.
“The district has been working on this bond for some time now,” Kim said, reminding last year’s canceled bond election and attention on issues raised by the pandemic.
But COVID-19 didn’t detour district growth, which allowed more room to fund a revised bond to present to voters next November.
Since last fall David Andersen, the district’s chief financial officer, updated parameters of possible bond amounts without tax increases, which increased from $418 million to $432 million and now is estimated at $550 million, based on the district’s current tax rate of 35 cents per $100 property valuation.
Kim said the board has until Aug. 16 to schedule a Nov. 2 bond election that will be combined with a voter-approved tax ratification election. He presented a draft of bond possibilities, which like the last year’s proposed $397.7 million bond would be separated into four propositions.
Proposition A would allot $358.6 million for two new elementary schools, a middle school, capital infrastructure improvements, land purchases for future facilities and school buses. Elementary No. 19, located off of State Highway 46 South, would provide relief for Clear Spring and Freiheit Elementary schools; Elementary No. 20, located across from Danville Middle School, providing relief for Garden Ridge and Morningside Elementary schools; and Middle School No. 8, located south of Farm-to-Market Road 1863 and U.S. 281, will relieve Pieper Ranch Middle School.
Proposition B would designate $68.5 million for girls and boys weight rooms, lockers and a wrestling facility at Canyon High School; baseball and softball practice facilities at Canyon Lake High and Mountain Valley Middle schools; girls and boys soccer locker rooms and a wrestling facility at Smithson Valley High School and the pavilion/ag area for the district’s multi-use event center tentatively planned near Danville Middle School in Schertz.
Proposition C designates an undetermined amount for the event center’s primary structure. Senate Bill 30, approved by the 86th Legislature in 2019, mandates bond elections list certain items in separate ballot propositions, and why the center’s pavilion is included in Proposition B.
Proposition D would allocate $41.5 million for teacher and student instructional technology.
Again, all of the above are estimates totaling $486.8 million and lack the cost of the primary event center, which was $127.4 million on the 2020 bond ballot.
Construction costs have soared since voters approved the 2017 bond ($263.5 million), which created Davenport High School and Pieper High School, set to open in August. Trustees agreed they have a lot of work left in shaping the bond.
“There are always constant needs to be addressed,” Kim said. “The question is do we do it all in one shot, or space things out? We are trying to space things out — three years, five years — so we don’t have to come back and do them again.”
“Once again, we have to consider higher labor costs and inflation. The cost for a middle school has gone up considerably, about $20 million, since we added Kinder Ranch and Danville four years ago.”
Kim said some bond items will be discussed at Comal Forward focus group meeting from 5-7 p.m. Monday at Davenport High School. Trustees will narrow down bond totals and set the district’s preliminary 2021-22 budget in workshop session on June 10.
“Educating the community of the specifics of the bond, and the confusion (they) might (have) with the ballot language and multiple propositions, is a unique challenge,” Kim said. “But passing the bond will also (impact) operating budgets because of costs to run those facilities.”
The board started work after newcomer Courtney Biasatti and incumbents Tim Hennessee and Michelle Ross were sworn for new terms.
After meeting in executive session they emerged to elect Jason York as board president, Ross as vice president, Marty Bartlett as treasurer and Hennessee as secretary. They approved the second reading of the 2021-22 student code of conduct, $114,869 for the final round of furniture, fixtures and equipment for Pieper High School and allocated $2 million for repairs at facilities damaged by February’s winter storm.