The Alvarado ISD board of trustees voted unanimously on Aug. 12 to call an $11.15 million bond election for Nov. 5. The bond proposal is for an addition at Alvarado Junior High School to address student growth and to begin a grade realignment process.
The board’s action will also allow the district to accelerate existing debt payments, creating additional funding capacity in the future.
The expansion at AJHS, which was part of the campus master plan when designed in 2013, will add about 29,000 square feet to the existing facility. It will provide capacity for an additional 300 students and will include classrooms, science labs, collaboration spaces and restrooms.
The additional space will allow sixth-graders to attend the junior high, which then allows third-graders to attend Alvarado Intermediate School, creating room for growth at the district’s three elementary schools.
This change is the first step in the district’s long-term grade realignment plan, which will be to eventually operate prekindergarten through 5th grade elementary schools, a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school and a ninth- through 12th-grade high school. This long-term plan is expected to provide fewer changes and transitions for students and greater operational efficiency and cost savings for the district.
The 2019 bond proposal is part of the district’s master facility plan that has been developed over the span of several years. In 2016, a district-wide facilities assessment was conducted, and since that time the district has received regular updates on demographic projections and student growth from a demographer. Since April, the district’s Facilities Steering Committee — comprised of nearly 30 parents and community members — has met regularly to study facility conditions, District finances and various options to meet changing educational requirements.
AISD Superintendent Kenneth Estes said he’s grateful to the volunteers who served on the Facilities Steering Committee.
“The committee members worked diligently to analyze growth projections and consider the complexities of school funding before developing a recommendation they felt met the requests of students, teachers and the community,” Estes said.
The bond election is not anticipated to have any impact on overall taxes. At August’s meeting, trustees set the tax rate at $1.47, an increase of less than a penny from last year’s rate.
This is possible because the maintenance & operations tax rate has been compressed 7 cents as a result of House Bill 3 and the interest & sinking tax rate has been set at $0.50. This represents an increase of $6.75 per year, or about 56 cents per month for a home valued at $100,000.
By setting the I&S rate at 50 cents, the district will pay down existing debt at a faster rate, which should position the district to have additional bonding capacity in the future to address other facility improvements.
AISD property taxes for residents age 65 or older will not be affected as long as no significant improvements are made to the home. The over 65-exemption application must be filed with the Johnson County Appraisal District.
AISD residents will have the opportunity to vote on the bond referendum during early voting from Oct. 21 through Nov. 1, and on Election Day on Nov. 5.