Committee eyes 11 projects for potential May bond

Expanding Dripping Springs High along with building a fifth elementary school were part of a recommendation given by Dripping Springs ISD’s Long Range Planning Committee earlier this month.

The recommendations, which feature a plethora of needed improvements and new facilities to accommodate rapid growth, could make up a potential bond package that could go to voters this May. 

The committee was made up more than 100 community members, parents and administrators who have been meeting since the fall in order to identify improvements within the district or the potential for new facilities.

These projects are part of a plan to accommodate the growth that many communities in the Hill Country are experiencing.

The district is growing seven percent each year. By 2025, the district expects to reach 12,000 students.

On Jan. 9, Superintendent Bruce Gearing said the committee identified 11 projects that are the priority for the potential bond package. The Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee also elected a set of members to a Bond Steering Committee to recommend a bond package based on the projects.

Along with updating technology, updating maintenance issues and creating collaborative classrooms, the committee also tabbed expanding Dripping Springs High to accommodate 2,500 students. Other potential projects included converting the current Walnut Springs Elementary into a new district administration building, and renovating Dripping Springs Middle School to accomodate for Walnut Springs students.

“In terms of facilities in the district, the core philosophy has always been to look at students’ needs first, and then look at support facilities after that, making sure we really meet the day-to-day needs of the district,” Gearing said.

On Jan. 16, the Bond Steering committee will finalize the bond package and prepare for a presentation to the DS ISD Board of Trustees on Jan. 22.

“Their job will be to match that bonding capacity and how much money we have with the list of projects and start to really do the hard work of crossing things off the list if we can’t afford to do these things, based on that prioritization,” Gearing said during the public meeting.

The board will have until Feb. 16 to decide whether it will call for a bond election on May 5.

The amount for the bond package and bond capacity for the district depends on the district’s tax rate.

The 2014 bond allocated $92 million toward projects, which are almost to completion and currently on budget.

A larger bond package is projected for a potential 2021 bond election, which could include the need to build a new high school and create more shared facilities for growth.

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