Alleviating growing pains is leading Dripping Springs ISD to take a $132 million bond package to voters May 5.
The bond election is scheduled to be held on May 5 and, if passed, would be the second bond the district has called since 2014.
DSISD officials said the proposed bond will not increase the property tax rate of $1.52 per $100 valuation.
Part of the bond package includes additions to Dripping Spring High School that would allow for an increase to 2,500 students.
However, based on the population growth projections, another bond would need to be issued by 2021 to accommodate new students in the district. That has led the district to start preliminary discussions of a new high school in the future.
Jennifer Rodriguez, a mother of children who attend DSISD schools, said the bond is an opportunity to alleviate concerns she has with overpopulation in the schools.
“There is nothing we can do about the growth coming to this city,” she said. “We moved to this area and the school district was pinnacle in that decision. Every student has to funnel through one high school and not passing the bond will hurt how our children receive their education.”
DSISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing said if the bond does not pass, the district would have to purchase portables to help accommodate the growing population at the high school and other campuses.
Funding for these purchases would come from the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) budget, which accounts for the funding of teachers.
Gearing said Dripping Springs is planning for the inevitable growth with improvement projects and expansions for the students, according to the population boom expected to continue based on the districts projections.
The bond will also account for $9 million in land acquisitions for future developments. Land in the Dripping Springs area continues to increase in price and purchasing land early would allow for the district to properly plan for future developments, Rodriguez said.
“I was involved in the 2014 bond process and both of my kids are in Sycamore Springs because of that bond,” said Andy Hutton, resident of Dripping Springs. “I want to see the communities support a bond that benefits our children’s quality of life in the classroom.”
However, not all members of the community are convinced that the bond is beneficial for the district.
Cristin Hearne, a resident of Dripping Springs, said the board and Gearing are not transparent with how the bond will affect the current tax rate.
“In order to pay for these bonds, there are revenue forecasts,” Heanre said. “They are banking on continued increased appraisals which is why they can claim ‘debt capacity’ and keep the rate flat.”
According to Hearne, the board knows the appraisals before setting the rate each year, therefore, they know if they are increasing/decreasing or keeping taxes flat.
Appraisal values are determined by the Hays County Central Appraisal District, which in turn passes those valuations on to municipalities and school districts. Those entities then set ad valorem tax rates for the fiscal year based on the CAD’s valuation.
“What they do not want to say is how much the average DSISD taxpayer will see in tax increases to fund this bond,” Hearne said. “The board has already been voting in tax increases year after year.”
Early voting for the bond begins April 23, and another public hearing will be held on April 17 at 8 p.m. in the Rooster Springs Elementary cafeteria.