Projects get rolling with passage of $132M bond

With the passage of Dripping Springs ISD’s $132 million bond, the school district is looking to get the ball rolling with improvement projects in the near future.

The bond, which was initially approved May 5 by a slim 31-vote margin, survived a recent recount which upheld the initial result. Now, over a month later, projects are projected to begin as early as Fall 2018.

A major theme of the bond is centered around improving school facilities to accommodate a school district that is projected to double in size within the next decade. Roughly $102 million of the bond will go towards these school improvements.

Mike Garcia, project manager for the Dripping Springs Independent School District, said the district will start with the expansion of the transportation facility, which will begin an early design process in fall 2018, with a projected completion date by summer 2019.

“The back half of the property is dirt and that will be paved,” Garcia said. “The space will give our transportation team some extra training space, restroom facilities and an expansion of our job area for repairs.”

In addition to the transportation improvements, planning will begin on the expansion of Dripping Springs High, which will increase campus population to 2,500 students. The plan is to have the facility ready to go by fall 2020.

More than $34 million is budgeted for the construction of the new Walnut Springs Elementary, adjacent to Dripping Springs Middle School. The construction of the school has an estimated opening of 2021.

“The current Walnut Springs Elementary will become the new administration building,” said Dale Whitaker, executive director of communications. “The renovation of the other two elementary schools will be designed in the spring of 2019 for a completion date of fall 2021.”

Between these major projects, the district will conduct smaller maintenance projects along the way. Technology improvements, costing $7.5 million, are on the docket, as is a  $1.5 million for athletic improvements at Dripping Springs High, which includes the replacement of turf fields at Tiger Stadium.

Despite the bond’s passage, the slim margin of success indicates a community polarized by the district’s intent.

Anti-bond organizations like the Citizens for Education in Dripping Springs, cite that the bond will inevitably increase property taxes regardless of the district’s position that it will not.

“We will be developing with stakeholders and move with community input with the projects,” Whitaker said. “We want to make sure we can make the best possible facilities for our students.”

There is not a firm date for the sale of the bonds, but that will come after July, Whitaker said.

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