In January, the LISD Board of Trustees formed the 2017 Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) to study the district’s present and future facility, technology and ancillary needs. The intent of this committee is to help the Board determine whether it is necessary to call a school bond election. We will be talking more in the coming months about the bond process, what purpose the committee serves and how they work, but for right now, I wanted to take a moment to provide an update on our BAC.
As a bit of history, Leander ISD held its last bond election in 2007. Our Board and financial team has done an outstanding job managing these funds over the past 10 years, saving $464 million from three bond refundings, restructuring our portfolio to more cost-efficient CIBs, carefully monitoring our demographic report and redrawing attendance zones to ensure maximum use of each of our schools. This has resulted in our bond rating being increased this year to an impressive AA rating.
Those same demographic reports also forecast an additional 6,000 students moving to LISD in the next five years, necessitating four new schools to house them: three elementary schools and one middle school. In addition to those new schools, we have several schools that have roofs or heating and cooling units that are reaching the end of their lifespan. We also have an educational climate wherein technology, laptops and smartphones are increasingly becoming a necessity in the learning process.
With all these things in mind, the Board and district administration worked to build the 2017 bond committee. The steering committee is co-chaired by Dr. Victor Villarreal, who also chaired the 2007 bond committee and is a former member of the Austin Community College (ACC) Board of Trustees, and Shaun Cranston, LISD parent and vice chair of the Austin Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. The committee is made up of 25 members who represent all sides of the district as parents, business leaders, community members, teachers and staff.
The steering committee is supported by 130 subcommittee members, also a mix of community members and LISD staff, who are divided into five subcommittees: high school, middle school, elementary school, technology and ancillary, which addresses the needs of central administration, athletics, fine arts, transportation, instructional services, etc. These members applied to serve and were selected by district administration to ensure all 200 square miles and all segments of our district are represented.
Our BAC has been working diligently to asses our district’s needs. They meet regularly as a whole and in their respective groups to study and analyze demographic data, growth trends, our 10-year capital renewal plan, maintenance reports and campus needs assessments. Upon reviewing those materials, the subcommittees will develop a list of facility needs for the next three to five years, as well as cost estimates and a timeline for completion of these needs.
In May, the subcommittees will present its recommendations to the steering committee. The steering committee will consider and consolidate the reports, as well as community input collected through forums and surveys, into one proposal covering all needs of the district. The steering committee will then present its proposal to the Board in June.
The Board will use the summer months to consider the proposal and weigh the merits of a bond election. Should the Board decide to move forward, an additional information and education subcommittee will be formed and the district will work to hold forums, conduct surveys and interviews with stakeholders to communicate the proposed bond package and gather input.
We understand that a bond election is a big decision, one that will affect the bottom line for all residents in our district, and one that can shape the landscape of our children’s education for decades to come. I am proud of the coalition of community members who have stepped up to help us assess our needs and determine how best to serve the children and taxpayers in LISD. It speaks volumes of the caliber of our district when we have far more committee applicants than we have open positions.
I will continue to update you as the bond proposal process continues. In the meantime, if you would like to know more, please click the link to the 2017 Bond Advisory Committee page in the center of our homepage. Together, we can lead all students to a bright future.