General Bond Questions
The bond is based on our needs and commitment to Arlington students. A districtwide comprehensive assessment identified the district’s capital needs, and then the volunteer Capital Needs Steering Committee helped establish priorities through a formal recommendation to the Board. The majority of the bond is for facility improvements and replacements in keeping with the District’s commitment to protect its facility investments and provide modern, relevant and safe schools for our students. The District has many aging buildings that require significant maintenance and, in some cases, reconstruction.
Coupled with our facility needs is our commitment to give Arlington students a world-class education. Our goal is to ensure that each student will graduate from high school prepared for his or her college or career of choice. In keeping with this mission, the bond would provide improved learning spaces for full-day Pre-K, fine arts, career and technical education and athletics. It would also improve technology access for students and teachers, improve school security and provide transportation for students to the program of their choice.
The 2019 Bond was designed to build on the 2014 Bond program, align with the District’s strategic plan and improve access and equity for all students.
Texas law governs what revenue raised from school bonds may be used for. Texas Education Code §45.001(a)(1) says bonds may be issued for:
“(A) the construction, acquisition, and equipment of school buildings in the district;
(B) the acquisition of property or the refinancing of property financed under a contract entered under Subchapter A, Chapter 271, Local Government Code, regardless of whether payment obligations under the contract are due in the current year or a future
(C) the purchase of the necessary sites for school buildings; and
(D) the purchase of new school buses.”
The 2019 Bond would provide funds for improvements in the areas of facilities, fine arts, safety, security and technology, and transportation. Visit the Projects Overview page for more details.
AISD’s staff, together with consultant architects, engineers and facility planning consultants, conducted a thorough needs assessment of the entire district. This included a complete evaluation of building conditions, instructional priorities, enrollment trends, transportation, security, technology and more.
Then a 37-member Capital Needs Steering Committee, comprised of parents, teachers, principals, community members, business representatives and college and university representatives, was appointed by the Board of Trustees to evaluate and prioritize the district’s identified capital needs. Through a series of meetings, community dialogues and surveys, the committee reviewed and analyzed the district’s capital assessment and listened to the community’s priorities and questions. In June, the committee reported its findings to the AISD Board of Trustees and recommended the bond program to fund the priorities.
NO tax rate increase would be needed for the proposed 2019 Bond program. In other words, the current Interest & Sinking tax rate, the rate that funds bond payments, is sufficient to cover the additional debt accrued by the proposed bond program.
The overall tax rate will actually go down next year. While the I&S rate will remain the same, the other part of the tax rate, the Maintenance & Operations rate, will go down by $0.07, whether the bond passes or not. This decrease is mandated by the state’s new legislation (HB3).
The district has a five-year plan to implement all aspects of the bond.
All AISD schools would receive updates and condition improvements except Arlington College and Career High School, which just opened in August in a fully-renovated building.
Carter, Thornton, Berry and Webb Questions
The average age of these schools is 61 years, and they all have significant condition needs. The AISD has determined that it will cost more to maintain them in the long term than to replace them. New facilities would be purposefully designed to provide relevant, modern, state-of-the-art learning spaces.
The reconstruction of Berry and Thornton is part of a larger overall plan to improve east Arlington elementary schools. East Arlington has a number of aged schools, along with some excess capacity. A master plan has been developed to upgrade facilities, putting more students in 21st-century buildings, and to improve operational efficiency. Part of this master plan includes closing Roark and Knox, both old and underutilized schools, and rezoning their students. So, in other words, four existing east Arlington elementary buildings would be closed and replaced with two new, larger, comprehensive elementary facilities (a new Berry and a new Thornton). The entire area would be rezoned to match the new school footprint.
Berry, Thornton and Webb would be reconstructed on their current sites. Carter Junior High, however, would move. The site is undersized and erosion in the adjacent creek impedes site use. There is not room for a track around the football field or ample parking. The District proposes to rebuild Carter where Knox Elementary is currently located, a site that is more centrally located to the Carter student population and large enough to accommodate all program offerings.
Yes. All three buildings are safe and continue to be fully maintained. As long as these schools are open, the District will ensure their students have a safe learning environment and will provide the same opportunities available at all other schools.
Knox and Roark Questions
Both schools are aged, have significant condition needs and have excess capacity. As part of a greater master plan for the east Arlington area, closing them and rezoning their students to other nearby schools would ultimately put more east Arlington students in modern school facilities and improve the District’s operational efficiency.
The timing of these closures is still to be determined and could vary by school. Neither school would close in the 2019-2020 school year. The bond is a five-year program and the projects are planned to occur by fall 2025.
As part of the master plan for east Arlington, the entire area would be rezoned, including Knox and Roark students. Many would go to a newly reconstructed Berry or Thornton Elementary.
Both schools will be demolished. The City Council has agreed to swap the Wessler Park property that is adjacent to Knox for the Roark Elementary property. A new Carter Junior High will be built on the Knox site. Wessler park will be rebuilt on the Roark site.
The 2014 Bond program addressed many condition needs throughout the district, but not all. In fact, some of the condition needs identified in the facilities assessment for the 2014 bond were prioritized to the next bond program. Maintaining the district’s 78 schools, plus many support buildings, is an ongoing process. The 2019 Bond would build on the 2014 Bond program and continue the process of maintaining and renovating the District’s facilities.
Maintaining a home is a good analogy. A homeowner does not renovate everything in the house and then wait 20 years to renovate anything again. The homeowner may need to replace a roof one year, kitchen appliances the next, and HVAC units the next. Schools are similar. A school building may need new HVAC equipment one year, but its roof is sufficient. Five years later, the roof might need to be replaced, but the HVAC units are still ok. Similarly, while one school in the district may need electrical renovations one year, another school may not, but instead that school needs work on something else.
Introductory-level Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses are still taught at the high school campuses. Once completed, students move on to take upper-level courses at the new Dan Dipert Career + Technical Center. However, the District’s high schools do not all have the correct facilities to offer all introductory courses, and demand for these courses is growing. The 2019 Bond would provide renovations to Arlington, Bowie, Lamar and Seguin high schools to create welding, construction and/or culinary labs as needed. This would ensure access to these introductory-level CTE courses to all students at all AISD high schools.
Currently, the District’s high schools only have practice softball fields. The high school softball teams all play their home games at the District’s softball complex next to Workman Junior High, resulting in schedule difficulties and conflicts. The 2019 Bond would renovate the practice fields into competition fields so that the softball teams could play their home games at their schools.
Three competition fields are needed for the District’s six high schools. The AISD owns Wilemon Field and Cravens Field and rents UTA Maverick Stadium. Access to UTA Maverick Stadium is going away, so the District needs a replacement competition venue. The 2019 Bond would renovate the Martin High School field to be the third varsity competition field.
The 2014 Bond provided new tracks at junior highs and improved the playing fields. However, the District’s junior high fields still lack the requisite facilities to host games with other schools. The 2019 Bond would provide facilities for restrooms, concessions, ticket booths and storage. Field lighting is not included in the bond package.