Frisco ISD Bond Program 2014

Frisco ISD Bond Program 2014

On Saturday, May 10, 2014, the citizens of the Frisco Independent School District voted to approve a $775 million bond package to provide educational facilities for up to 66,000 students. PASA Demographics currently projects Frisco ISD will reach that enrollment figure in 2020.

The bond referendum passed with 77 percent voter approval. A total of 9,635 votes were cast. 

The plan was developed by a committee of 27 parents and community members who met for several months to review current FISD facilities and capacities, historical growth and projections, economic indicators and growth plans of the city, along with cost estimates and financial implications. About half of the members had previous bond committee experience.

Ultimately, the group proposed a package that includes new schools, additions and land purchases, instructional and student support needs, and renovations to support facilities. Trustees accepted the proposal at the February 10th regular meeting of the Board and called a bond election for May 10, 2014.

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What's Included?

School/Instructional Facilities
$665.7 million or 85.9 percent, including contingency

  • 14 new schools ($598.2 million) including eight elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, as well as everything to open these schools to students (equipment, books, furniture, technology, etc).
  • School additions ($21.2 million) including expansions at the Career and Technical Education Center and Lone Star High School (300 student addition to bring the school to an enrollment capacity of 2,100 students like other FISD high schools), a fine arts addition at Centennial High School (to bring up to the standard of other high schools) and additional parking and new access/circulation at Spears Elementary. The Career and Technical Education Center expansion would add 43,800 square feet, increasing the facility by approximately one-third, to meet programming demands in pre-engineering, architecture, legal studies, graphic arts and animation, and health sciences. Program expansions would also include sports management, computer  programming, certification areas and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).​
  • Land purchases ($37 million) including four elementary sites, three middle school sites and three high school sites in key areas of the District. This includes related infrastructure costs.

Instructional and Student Support Services
 $103.2 million or 13.3 percent

  • Technology ($40 million) funds would update campus instructional technology hardware every five years, upgrade district-wide infrastructure such as the wide area network, fiber and wireless capability and provide for other emerging needs and new technologies. These funds impact all campuses.
  • Renovations/Upgrades ($38 million) funds would to convert existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to geothermal when systems wear out and where it is feasible, resulting in energy savings over time. Also included are upgrades, replacements and repairs related to health, safety and instructional needs, along with vehicles and equipment for the custodial and maintenance departments, and upgrades to irrigation controls which result in efficiency and savings as technology improves. These funds impact almost all campuses (age of campus consideration).
  • Transportation ($12 million) funds would provide for buses to accommodate additional routes as the District adds more schools and 14,000 new students.
  • Construction/Demographics ($7 million) funds would provide for personnel to manage construction projects and to pay for demographic studies and analysis, both components in effective planning and opening schools on time and on or under budget.
  • Security ($3.7 million) funds would replace and upgrade surveillance cameras and servers as they wear out and provide for new security devices and programs as they emerge. A new device for lockdown and emergency response has already been identified and is being piloted for potential use. These funds impact all schools.
  • Energy Management ($2.5 million) funds would convert old lighting systems to newer standards, which results in energy cost savings and rebates.

Special Programs/Support Facilities Renovations
 $6.1 million or 0.8 percent

  • Memorial Stadium ($4 million) would be upgraded to give the District three stadiums to serve 11 high schools. The plan includes new visitors seating, adding a lane to the track and more concession, restroom, parking and dressing room space. An eighth lane on the track would allow FISD to host District meets.
  • R.L. Barrow Transportation Facility ($950,000) would receive an addition and renovation.
  • FISD Natatorium ($700,000) would receive additional storage to address fire code issues.
  • FISD Transportation West ($450,000) would receive additional parking to accommodate more buses.

Why Now?

On a percentage basis, no school district in the country has grown faster in the last twenty years. See data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 1993, FISD had approximately 1,933 students who attended four schools. Today, the District serves more than 46,000 students in 56 schools, with seven more campuses opening in the next two years.

With the opening of Hosp, McSpedden, Newman and Scott elementary schools and Independence High School this fall, and Trent Middle School and Reedy High School in 2015, all remaining funds left under the 2006 bond program will be expended, taking Frisco ISD to 52,000 students as anticipated.

But the growth continues. Frisco ISD is currently home to five of the top 10 fastest growing neighborhoods in the Metroplex, according to the Metrostudy quarterly report. The District is projected to add nearly 20,000 students by 2020, or an average of 2,800 students annually. See growth projections from PASA Demographics.

Based on current projections, the 15th middle school is needed in 2015, but funds are not available. In order to open in the fall of 2015, construction would need to be accelerated this summer. 

What's the Cost?

Taxpayers pay a combined tax rate to the Frisco ISD that supports two different funds. The maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate is $1.04 and funds the general operations of the District. This is like the part of a household budget that pays for utilities, food, clothing and gasoline. As schools are a people-intensive business, about 80 percent of these funds go to personnel costs.

The interest and sinking tax rate (I&S), often called the debt service tax rate, is $0.42. Funds generated from this tax rate go toward paying off the debt generated by the issuance of schoolhouse bonds. This is like the part of a household budget that pays for the home mortgage, the car loan or a financed expenditure for a computer or other large item. Bonds are issued as school projects are needed and are not issued all at once. Most bonds are issued for 30 years, but the principal amount issued for short term assets, such as technology, are paid off more quickly. FISD's bond ratings allow the District to receive competitive interest rates.

Your Bottom Line

The most that the debt service tax rate could increase due to the 2014 bond program is eight cents over the life of the bonds. For the owner of the average FISD home, valued at about $270,000, that would mean an extra $17 a month in taxes.

This rate is dependent on assessed property values and how fast Frisco ISD builds schools based on growth.

Since 1999, Frisco ISD has issued more than $1.5 billion in debt from previous bond programs and the debt service tax rate has increased by six cents. In each of the last three years, the District has issued $100 million in bonds, while maintaining the rate at 42 cents. FISD is fortunate that taxable values have increased in a way that the District has been able to maintain a low overall tax rate. View FISD debt service tax history.

Homeowners aged 65 and older whose taxes are capped would not see a change in their school taxes as a result of the 2014 bond program. Click here for more information on tax benefits for those over age 65.

How Has FISD Handled the Growth?

In the early 1990s, a committee of Frisco ISD community members, parents, staff and Board members came together to determine a plan for the growth they knew was coming. The District’s only schools at the time were Acker, Rogers, Frisco Middle School and Frisco High. But with 75 square miles, it was clear that FISD could not remain a one high school community.

The group decided students would best be served in 9th through 12th grade high schools that were small enough so that students could know each other, could know their teachers, and could have the opportunity to participate in multiple activities and organizations. It was the foundation of the FISD mission to know every student by name and need.

That philosophy has been implemented through voter-approved bond programs beginning in 1993 that built Curtsinger Elementary and the first phase of the new Frisco High.

A referendum in 1995 was followed by four more in an eight-year period (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) for a combined total of $1.692 billion ($118 million, $298 million, $478 million and $798 million). These referendums received approval ratings of 95, 96, 89.4 percent, and 72 percent, and built 50 schools, with seven more under construction.

Now with FISD projected to enroll 52,673 students in 2015, the time has come to consider another bond program. The 2014 Citizens Bond Committee began meeting in September 2013 to evaluate the District's existing facilities, programs and continued growth.

It takes six months to design a new elementary school (nine months for a new prototype) and 12 months to build; nine months to design a new middle school (12 months for a new prototype) and 18 months to build; and 12+ months to design a new high school and 24 months to build. In line with the District's smaller schools philosophy, elementary campuses are built with a capacity of 760 students, middle schools are built with a capacity of 1,000 students and high schools are built with a capacity of 2,100 students.

Please click on the dates at right to view a summary of the work of the 2014 Citizens Bond Committee and the information they considered in forming their proposal. Members included: 

Chuck Altman          

Allen Biehl               

Peter Burns              

Kirby Chandler *          

Ron Charles *                

Melanie Classe          

Guy Dugas *                  

George Dula *

Tony Felker 

James Fomby (Secretary) *             

Adel Garza *                 

Rhonda Jackson 

Jeff Kocher *              

Julie Markham *

Clark Miller *               

Buddy Minett (Co-Chair)           

Debbie Pasha (Co-Chair)  

Dick Peasley 

Greg Petolick *

Ron Pigman              

Phil Ramirez 

Jude Rogowski *

Chad Rudy               

Karmann Schackmann *

Marian Schulze         

Isabel Sem *                   

Tom Woliver            

*Previous Bond Experience