A $177 million bond package the Midway Independent School District is considering does not have adequate support to pass in November, according to the results of a survey conducted by a third party.
But survey respondents showed significantly more support for a $126 million or even a $153 million bond issue, said Geoff Tonini with Decisive Campaigns, the company that conducted the phone and online survey.
A Midway ISD facility study committee recommended May 21 that the school board call a Nov. 5 bond election for $177 million that would address the needs of the growing school district. The deadline to call for an election is Aug. 19.
The bond package as proposed includes building a new elementary school, eliminating intermediate schools and repurposing the buildings, and renovating Midway Middle School.
The school district of about 8,200 students is expected to surge to 10,700 in 10 years, according to the facility committee’s estimates.
The survey was conducted between June 24 and July 5, by phone and online. Out of 30,758 registered voters, just 1,135 verified registered voters or households participated and completed the survey, Tonini said. The survey was distributed to both residents and district employees.
A $126 million bond issue would not require Midway ISD to increase its tax rate to raise that amount of money, which is likely why more people supported it, Tonini said. The district would have to increase the tax rate by 2 cents per $100 of property value to raise the $153 million.
About 75% of survey respondents supported a $126 million bond package, Tonini said. About 64% of respondents supported the $153 million bond issue, and as people learned more about the bond projects, a greater percentage were willing to support a slight tax increase to fund the $153 million bond than to vote for a bond with no tax increase.
But the cheaper bond packages could alienate some voters who may have wanted to see a specific project reach fruition, Tonini said. Voters who supported the more expensive bond could decide not to vote altogether if their favorite project is not included in the bond issue.
Midway has one of the lowest tax rates in McLennan County and among its peer districts, at $1.32 per $100 valuation, according to the appraisal district. Belton ISD, a peer district, has a rate of $1.60. Tonini said survey respondents were concerned about the “Magnolia effect” increasing their property values and showed broad concern for raising the tax rate, something he has not really seen in other school districts.
Overall, survey responses indicated support for most of the projects, with 10 of the 12 projects showing widespread support, Tonini said. Projects associated with fine arts and athletics did not have as much support.
The project with the greatest support involved maintenance items, including roof and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system replacements.
Trustees have discussed trimming the bond package down to $160 million by cutting out some new construction and renovating some existing buildings instead, as well adjusting the construction schedule to decrease costs.
The 12 projects include:
- building a new elementary school
- converting Woodgate Intermediate School into an elementary school
- converting River Valley Intermediate School into a middle school
- renovating Midway Middle School
- adding onto Midway High School’s career and technology education program
- adding a parking lot to the high school
- renovating the performing arts center
- purchasing instruments, equipment, technology and storage for fine arts programs
- adding onto the high school locker room
- renovating the technology center
- replacing roofs for five buildings
- replacing HVAC systems at three campuses.