Four days into the current school year, the Bond Planning Committee was presented with the same opportunities to reduce the bond costs that were presented to the Midland ISD Board of Trustees last week. These cost reductions would still allow for all components needed to bring facilities up to where they need to be to address growth; grade reconfiguration; and safety, security and accessibility. Overall, $263,000,000 was reduced from the original recommendation.
Recommended scope, cost modifications
Central to the bond proposal is the plan for the construction of two comprehensive high schools to replace the current 74 year old and 62 year old high school facilities. A detailed look into these facilities was taken to see what areas of the scope of work can be reduced while not impacting academic achievement. The updated blueprint for these 6A high school campuses emphasizes a core size of 4,200 students while allowing for the flexible, phased expansion of classrooms designed for 3,800 students. This aligns with enrollment projections for the next decade and provides safe and effective learning environments to serve Midland students for another 60-plus years, a news release said.
For middle school solutions, the initial proposed capacity was adjusted to address what is needed for the next 10 years along with reducing interior and exterior aesthetics improvements. These reductions, however, still allow for every secondary campus to be touched by projects that would come from the bond.
The elementary construction budget was adjusted to reflect current market trends.
Safety, security and accessibility adjustments would eliminate projects currently included in the district’s 2023-24 maintenance budget along with improvements to the existing Legacy Freshman and Midland High School campuses except those that relate to accessibility and code deficiencies.
Improvements to aging facilities would see an elimination of all improvements to the existing Legacy Freshman Center along with the reduction of scope at the existing Midland High School to the most recent classroom addition, band hall, and auditorium.
These reductions in project scope will still allow the district to address capacity issues and move forward with grade reconfiguration.
Opportunity to see taxes decrease
Over the past decade, the district has strategically collaborated with its financial advisors to refinance and defease bonds (retire bonds early), resulting in $56 million in taxpayer savings. If the district maintains an overall tax rate of $0.9148, taxpayers might see a slight reduction in overall taxes due to the increase in the homestead exemption slated for the upcoming ballot. Additionally, if the overall tax rate remains flat, the district anticipates paying off all existing bond debt ahead of the schedule (defeasing), translating to over $30 million in savings and shortening the payback period by 16 years.
The district plans to maximize the advantages of the potential homestead exemption and required local compression, utilizing these measures to benefit taxpayers. Considering the average home value in Midland at $341,046, an updated homestead exemption of $100,000 is projected to save the average taxpayer $549 annually compared to the previous year.
Development of final recommendations
The committee was presented with two options to potentially present to the Board of Trustees Tuesday — one that included a two proposition model and another that combined all projects into one proposition. A vote was taken, and the group overwhelmingly decided to present a one proposition option totaling $1,415,400,000. This proposed proposition will include:
- (2) Comprehensive High Schools
- Middle School Improvements
- Safety, security and accessibility
- Improvements to aging facilities
- New elementary school