Already facing more than $2.5 billion in debt, the school board of Frisco ISD is seeking to add yet another $775 million to the pile.
On May 10th, the voters of Frisco, Texas will be asked to approve a bond measure that will max out the school district’s debt service tax rate, according to a recent report by Jess Fields of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). The proposed spending breaks down as follows:
- $665.7 million to build 14 new schools and expand existing facilities
- $103.2 million to upgrade technology; purchase vehicles; replace and upgrade surveillance cameras and security devices; and pursue energy conservation measures; and
- $6.1 million to upgrade and renovate school stadiums and other activity centers.
Fields points out that the Frisco ISD is already $2.6 billion in principle and interest debt outstanding. This equates to roughly $56,000 per enrolled student. If this bond is approved, the new debt level would be more than twice that of any of the surrounding school districts. Those districts include Lewisville ISD ($1.7 billion), Plano ISD ($1.4 billion), Denton ISD ($1.1 billion), Allen ISD ($806 million) and McKinney ISD ($712 million).
Putting the real weight of the bond to measure, Fields said, “On a 30-year bond, assuming an interest rate of 4.0 percent, the interest owed on the bond is over $556 million. This interest would bring the total cost including principle and interest of the bond to $1,331,988,674.35, or over $1.33 billion.”
This bond will result in a noticeable increase on the average family’s property tax bill, Fields said.
“According to Frisco ISD’s school board, the average home value is $272,801, while ‘one cent on the tax rate equals $2.15 a month. At the maximum of 8 cents, that is $17.20 a month. Over the span of a calendar year, the increase means an additional $206.40 in added property taxes for the average homeowner.”
Fields also questions the relative cost of each facility and how they compare to that of similar facilities.
“The eight elementary schools are projected to cost between $19.5 million and $23.5 million, the three middle schools are projected to cost between $35.7 million and $40 million, and the three high schools are projected to cost between $101 million and $110 million.14 Do these facilities cost more than the mean construction cost for similar facilities?”
Fields concludes, “Without a doubt, Frisco ISD is one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas, and likely needs to build new facilities to accommodate that growth. However, it is also one of the most indebted in Texas, and is depending upon the continued explosive growth of Frisco and the surrounding area to meet its obligations. The need to expand must be balanced against the reality that Frisco’s present fiscal situation is tenuous at best.”
If growth does not continue as expected,” Fields states, “Frisco ISD may be stuck with an enormous amount of debt and facilities it cannot fill and taxpayers are going to have to pick up the tab.”
Breitbart Texas reached out to Frisco ISD for their reaction to the TPPF report. District representatives have not yet responded.
The website for Frisco ISD has a page dedicated to selling voters on the bond issue. The district claims the plan was developed over a period of several months by a committee of twenty-seven parents and community leaders to review the needs of the district, historical and projected growth, economic trends and growth plans of the city of Frisco. They also looked at projected cost estimates and the financial implications of this bond. “About half of the members had previous bond committee experience,” the website states.
As to why this bond is needed now, the website explains that Frisco is the fastest growing school district in the last twenty years. In the past twenty-one years the district has grown from 1,933 students in four schools to over 46,000 students in fifty-six schools with seven more campuses scheduled to open in the next two years. They make the case that growth is expected to continue and they face an expected 2015 enrollment of 52,000 students.
The district projects an estimated increase in taxes to the district taxpayers of about $17 per month.
“FISD is fortunate that taxable values have increased in a way that the District has been able to maintain a low overall tax rate,” the district states.
April 10 is the last day to register to vote for the bond election held on May 10. Polling locations can be found on the Frisco ISD website.
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