Frisco ISD is no stranger to big, bold school bonds. In 2006, the taxpayers passed a measure for $798 million to accommodate growth. If passed, this new bond will rank eighth-largest in state history, according to Texas Bond Review Board, a state agency that approves all bond sales that are greater than $250,000 or for more than a five-year term, as was reported by the Frisco Enterprise.
On February 10, 2014, Frisco ISD Superintendent of Schools Richard Wilkinson led the final of a series of bond presentations where school board voted unanimously. It was a measure that already had swelled from the $507 million presented in April, 2013 to $758 million. That night, the bond grew a little more, adding $17 million to its final $775 million state. For all that has gone into this school bond measure over time, the only thing to come out was a $27 million line item for a high school football stadium. That was nixed in favor of the Cowboys deal where the Frisco City Council and Frisco ISD school board voting to approve a $115 million agreement to build a complex to include an indoor stadium and Cowboys headquarters, according to ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth.
Breitbart News spoke with Richard Wilkinson, Deputy Superintendent for Business Services at Frisco ISD. He stated, “The stadium funds (as a result of the Cowboy’s deal) involved non-bond funds that were tax increment refinancing funds.” He added that “$27 million was not in the final proposal because of the Cowboys deal.”
That additional $17 million accounted for land purchases to build new 14 new schools to best address the City of Frisco’s growth management. This will also include an expansion of the Career and Technical Education Center, enhancements to one high school and a fine arts addition at another high school. This also includes other related items such as parking and access infrastructure as was originally reported in the Frisco Enterprise.
Frisco has been a successfully growing community that anticipates nearly doubling its population of 135,920 (as of 2013) to a full build-out. Given that rationale, in February, the Citizen’s Bond Committee presented student growth projections based on the previous seven school years (2006-07 to 2013-14) during which FISD added 21,965 students. This broke down to an average of 3,140 students annually. The committee then projected over the next seven years, based on existing growth patterns, anticipating an increase of 19,795 students, which is an average of 2,827. According to their figures and their small schools model, Frisco ISD is primed for over-flowing school capacity.
Unlike the neighboring communities of Allen or McKinney with higher capacity schools, Frisco has chosen this scaled down school model–meaning more schools, fewer students per school. The theory behind the small schools model is that students are not lost in the shuffle, especially in the high school years. The small schools model, by the way, is a real schooling configuration. In fact, the School for the Talented and Gifted at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center in Dallas is a highly touted small school that is part of an actual movement called the small schools initiative or cooperative.
The small school model as applied to public school has been a successful fit for Frisco. The Dallas Morning News reported on this last year. However, to understand the bond, it’s important to understand the price tag. Small schools mean more schools– more schools mean more taxpayer dollars.
Last month, before the board called for a vote, public comments were taken. Frisco resident Tom Fabry, who was also interviewed by CBS 11, posed his concerns that such a bloated bond might be risky if Frisco growth slows. He said, “This bond proposal will push Frisco ISD tax rates to the $.50 statutory cap. This creates an unacceptable level of risk to both taxpayers and students.”
He explained how: “Consider this scenario. It is a couple years out. We enter another recession, and property values tumble like they did six years ago,” Fabry stated, emphasizing that an economic downturn is only a possibility. He added that such a situation would be devastating to Frisco teachers, students and the community.
Frisco taxpayers will have to determine if $775 million is worth the price of admission. They are still paying off a 2006 bond authorization bond. The residents of Frisco will have to ask themselves if this mega-bond is really worth it.
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