Midway Independent School District trustees discussed plans Tuesday to distribute a survey to the community to gauge voters’ interest in approving a $177 million bond package.
The board plans to further discuss the survey and take action on hiring an independent agency to conduct it when the board meets again June 18.
The survey would cost about $12,500, and it would take four weeks to receive the results, said Lesley Weaver, a spokesperson for Huckabee Inc., an Austin-based architectural firm that specializes in educational facilities. The firm needs about 300 survey responses for the information to be statistically valid.
A Midway ISD facility study committee recommended May 21 that the school board call a November bond election for $177 million that would address the needs of the growing school district.
The bond package as proposed includes building a new elementary school, eliminating intermediate schools and repurposing the buildings, and renovating Midway Middle School.
Midway has used taxpayer dollars well in the past, saving about $5 million in interest costs by refinancing prior bond series, said Victor Quiroga, managing director of Specialized Public Finance Inc.
The school district of 8,200 students has about $93 million in outstanding debt, Quiroga said. Midway recently issued three bonds — in 1999, 2008 and 2013. They were for $51 million, $76 million and $34.5 million, respectively.
Midway’s current bonds, rated by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, have the highest possible rating, in part because of the state’s permanent school finance bond guarantee program, Quiroga said.
Midway is also in a favorable position to issue bonds because of historically low interest rates that likely will decrease further by the year’s end, Quiroga said.
“It’s a good time to issue bonds if you have to,” he said.
Midway has one of the lowest tax rates in McLennan County and among its peer districts, at $1.32 per $100 valuation, Quiroga said. Belton ISD, a peer district, has a rate of $1.60.
Quiroga ran two scenarios to see how a bond issue would impact the district’s tax rate. He said the average annual growth in property values in the district is 4.8%.
Based on that projection, Quiroga estimated Midway would have to raise its tax rate by 4.1 cents to raise the $177 million. The district could raise $123 million without increasing the tax rate at all.
With a greater growth rate in property valuations, Midway would have to raise its tax rate 3.82 cents to raise the $177 million. The district could raise $126 million without increasing the tax rate in that scenario.
Facility committee members said the major concern for the Midway district is growth, with student enrollment projections adding more than 2,500 students in 10 years.
Midway’s enrollment is 8,088. In 10 years, enrollment is expected to reach 10,700.
As proposed, the bond issue would increase taxes by $7.19 per month on the average Midway ISD home, valued at $226,000.
The committee recommended eliminating intermediate schools that serve fifth- and sixth-grade students, converting Woodgate Intermediate School into an elementary school and converting River Valley Intermediate School into a middle school. Middle schools would serve sixth through eighth grades, and elementary schools would serve prekindergarten through fifth grade.
Most of the $177 million bond proposal constitutes construction costs to build the new elementary school and convert the intermediate schools. The bond issue would set aside $148 million for construction that would also include additions for career and technology programs at the high school.
Other costs include:
- $2.8 million for renovation of the performing arts center; addition of instruments, equipment, technology and storage; and the addition of a high school theater parking lot and band practice field
- $13 million for athletic locker rooms and meeting rooms and training room
- $4.5 million for new technology data center
- $8 million to replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and roofs.
The deadline to call for a Nov. 5 bond election is Aug. 19.