A month into the 2019-20 school year, the Comal Independent School District board of trustees continues to focus on the future of the district.
Comal ISD trustees met for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday evening, during which they discussed future bond options, including a potential future event center, and heard the quarterly construction update. Trustees also approved several important items, such as the tax rate for tax year 2019 — down 7 cents from last year — and maximum class size exceptions for the ongoing school year.
Of the two-and-a-half hour meeting, an hour was spent discussing possible future bond options, following a presentation by Comal ISD Assistant Superintendent of school operations Mike McCullar.
McCullar went over a conceptualized multi-use event center that could become proposition 2 if a bond election is called. Pfulger architects helped come up with a rough design of an event center, which included event space, an aquatic competition area, classroom areas and more.
“It would be able to be used for graduations, ag events, swim competitions, basketball and volleyball games and tournaments, tennis games and tournaments, science fairs, concerts, performances and even convocations,” McCullar said.
Discussions about a future bond started during the trustees’ June meeting as the district makes plans for future campuses and upgrades to district facilities needed.
CISD voters passed the district’s two most recent bond measures, a $263.5 million bond in May 2017 and a $147.4 million bond in 2015 — however trustee David Drastata continued to emphasize the district needs to act now for the future of its students and will never be able to get ahead of the curve again after the failure of a much larger $451 million bond proposal in November 2013.
“The time is definitely now,” Drastata said in response to trustee Michelle Ross questioning if this was the best time to call another bond proposal. “We’re seeing growth and it’s not slowing down.”
Trustee Marty Bartlett agreed with Drastata, emphasizing construction material costs will only continue to go up in the future, making now the right time to call a bond.
The Comal ISD’s bond committee, Comal Forward, will have its first four meetings over the next month ahead of the board’s regularly scheduled October meeting.
“They’ll be presented the options we’ve shown to the board and give their feedback on what ideas they like and don’t like,” said Steve Stanford, executive communications director for Comal ISD. “It’s a great barometer to see what the voters would be in favor for or not in favor for, because they are voters themselves.”
Trustees approved several action items to help with the present and future running of schools in the district unanimously, such as the tax rate for tax year 2019.
“One of the final steps in the budget adoption and tax rate adoption process is the actual tax rates to be adopted, and once we get those rates to our county tax office, they will issue statements, generally the second week of October, and then we’ll follow that with getting the actual tax levy that we’ll bring to you in December,” said David Andersen, CSO of Comal ISD.
The tax rates being recommended for approval are the same rates used to build the budget, Andersen said.
“The tax rates we are recommending are $0.35 for the debt service (I&S), $0.97 cents for maintenance operations, which is 7 cents less than prior year, the total rate will be $1.32.”
The trustees also approved maximum class size exceptions for the ongoing school year, with 14 elementary schools exceeding class size ratios by one or two students.
McCullar also presented to the board the quarterly construction update for the district.
“Davenport High School is about 65% complete, and is about $3.1 million under budget,” McCullar said. “High school number five is about 16% complete and is on budget and on schedule.”
Smithson Valley High School’s athletic field replacement is close to done, and is just missing the high jump put, McCullar said.
“The construction of high school five will also address the drainage at Pieper Ranch,” McCullar said.
The next regularly scheduled Comal ISD Board of Trustees meeting is set for Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 at 6 p.m. in the district’s board room at 1404 IH 35 North.