Board goes over bond projects with staff, bond advisor, architects
Mustang’s school board mulled over the gritty details of the $181.28 million bond proposal in an almost three-hour long workshop Oct. 20.
School capacity projections, individual project costs and possible construction sites for three new schools were discussed during the workshop.
Board President Chad Fulton opened up the meeting by first addressing concerns on why a second high school did not make the project list. He said to do so would divide the community. Students would lose out on high-quality facilities, like JROTC, staff, activities, athletics and courses offered at the high school now, he explained.
“One high school is the path this board has taken,” he said.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel explained after the meeting that the district would receive no additional money for another high school. He also addressed the “crowded” photo posted on social media of a high school hallway. He said that was taken at the beginning of the school year but he went to see for himself if there was a problem and he discovered there wasn’t.
The superintendent said by now students can better navigate to classes using alternate routes.
To address the district’s overall growth, administrators have dwindled down a bond project list, collected by the district’s Long Range Planning Committee over two years, that originally started at $500 million.
Included in the proposed lease-revenue bond issue are some $137 million in projects, McDaniel says will create opportunities for every student in the district. By going the lease-revenue bond route, the superintendent said the district will save some $60 million, including inflation, by borrowing the money up front instead of going with general obligation bonds. With GO bonds, he said, the district would have to wait much longer to complete necessary projects while money accumulated and by then, the needs would even grow.
The district pays borrowing costs going the lease-revenue route, but McDaniel said, “This is the only way to build multiple projects and to build more. We believe we are saving on the inflation costs… It outweighs going with GO bonds and we get the projects now when we need them.”
If the bond issue passes, district officials report it will have “little to no effect on taxes.”
“Our board has made a commitment to keeping tax rates as steady as possible for the patrons in this district and they have done that by making a commitment to stay within a 28 mill level,” school spokesperson Shannon Rigsby said. “Thanks to the property value growth, our bond issues have always come in below that.”
Priority bond projects include three new schools: $17 million for the district’s eighth elementary school (72,000 sq. ft.), $21 million for the third intermediate school (78,000 sq. ft.) and $24 million for a third new middle school (90,000 sq. ft.).
The biggest bond project is a $24.5 million performing arts center. The 62,000 sq. ft. facility would be built on the high school campus, just east of the new events center, and have 1,600 seats.
A new band room at Canyon Ridge Intermediate for $1 million is another priority projects listed. Then at the high school, priority projects named are $3.7 million for relocating the district’s transportation facility, $2.9 million for a new 11,00 sq. ft. freshman cafeteria, $8.2 million for a new 31,464 sq. ft. science academy and $2.5 million for eight new classrooms (9,200 sq. ft.).
In total, these priority projects add up to $105.5 million.
Another $23 million in projects make up the second phase of the bond proposal. They include:
– Multi-purpose indoor band and athletic facility – $10.4 million
– Educational resources center – $6.8 million
– Warehouse – $2.1 million
– Soccer facility improvements – $1.5 million
– MHS tennis courts relocation – $1.1 million
– Wrestling room – $930,600
– MMS tennis court construction – $410,000
However, after their workshop discussion, the board has chosen not to go after an indoor practice facility and instead a full-size practice field for about half, approximately $5 million.
Finally, the district listed an additional $15 million in projects as departmental needs and/or requests. They include:
– $6 million for district-wide school improvements (flooring, playground equipment, remodel/renovation and HVAC repair/replacement)
– $4.5 million for instructional materials, textbooks and STEM
– $2.3 million for technology infrastructure and devices
– $1.4 million for buses
– $1 million for land purchase
In order to have a Feb. 14 bond vote, the district must call for an election at the district’s November school board meeting. McDaniel said on Friday the final project list would be finalized Tuesday in order to prepare the necessary ballot language for board members to approve at their Nov. 13 meeting.