PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - Plano ISD trustees agreed to include a bond proposal on Collin County's May 7 ballot during Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Collin County voters living within the Plano ISD attendance zone will be asked to consider a proposition to provide $481 million toward eight major project areas with no increase to the tax rate, according to a Plano ISD news release Tuesday night.
The Plano ISD Board of Trustees appointed a Facilities and Technology Task Force in August 2015, an advisory committee comprising citizens, business leaders, parents, school administrators and teachers. The task force met eight times from September to January in order to evaluate and prioritize the district's needs. Their research included garnering input from the community during a public hearing in December, as well as through public input sessions during regular school board meetings.
After five months of study and public input, the task force made final recommendations to school trustees which are included in this bond proposal.
Specific proposed uses include:
District-Wide Renovations and Upgrades: Major renovations at Shepton High School and Robinson Middle School. Refurbishments at Barksdale, Gulledge, Haggar, Haun, Miller and Skaggs Elementary Schools, Bowman and Wilson Middle Schools and Jasper and Williams High Schools. The bond proposal also addresses needs for schools and service facilities such as carpet and air-conditioning equipment, updating fire alarms or energy management systems and site improvements for parking or fire lanes.
Fine Arts: With more than 60% of Plano ISD secondary students participating in fine arts programs, funding includes an auditorium for large and acoustically appropriate performances. Currently, the district spends in excess of $45,000 annually to rent space for district performances. The bond package would allow for construction of a Plano ISD performing arts and multipurpose facility to be used for performances by all fine arts programs in the school district. Other fine arts projects include additions to current campus-based fine arts facilities to increase classroom size, improve space functionality, increase storage capability and make dance floor improvements.
Technology: The district's current operating budget cannot support large technology purchases without taking dollars away from other instructional programs. This bond package includes district-wide improvements to technology infrastructure and additional equipment to support classroom technologies that help maintain the district's 2013-16 Technology Plan. The technology portion of the bonds is repaid over a shorter term (5 years) than the other projects.
Expanding Classroom and Program Capacity: Funding would include purchasing property and constructing new facilities that will increase classroom capacity across the school district and expand program offerings for students and teachers.
Early Childhood Education: As studies have shown that preschool education increases the academic success of students, the bond includes plans for a fourth early childhood center in conjunction with planned expansion of pre-k opportunities.
Safety and Security: District-wide upgrades and improvements would include access control systems; security camera systems; emergency communication equipment; campus panic alarms; security upgrades for senior high schools; and safety upgrades for Clark Stadium.
New Buses: Funding would be allocated to replace 90 buses as they reach the end of their fifteen-year useful life.
Athletics: Proposed upgrades to athletic facilities include replacing artificial turf at Clark Stadium and the three senior high school indoor practice facilities, adding artificial turf at the Clark Triple Fields, Williams High School Field and the three senior high school outdoor practice fields, replacing the scoreboard at Clark Stadium, adding locker rooms on the home and visitor sides of Clark East Field, a locker room renovation at Plano East Senior High School and softball and baseball bleacher enhancements/expansions.
"It has been eight years since the school district has held a bond issue to address major facilities and technology needs," said Nancy Humphrey, school board president. "The 2008 bond election included $490 million toward several major projects and was initially planned to provide for capital needs through 2012. Its lifespan is twice what was originally intended, and now voters will have the opportunity to consider our district's needs."
Voters will decide May 7 whether to approve Plano ISD's $481 million proposal. The last day to register to vote for the May 7, 2016 election is Thursday, April 7. Early voting is April 25-30 and May 2-3. The ballot will allow voters to vote "for" or "against" the following measure:
"THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS IN THE AMOUNT OF $481,000,000 FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, RENOVATION, ACQUISITION AND EQUIPMENT OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS, THE PURCHASE OF NECESSARY SITES FOR SCHOOL BUILDINGS AND THE PURCHASE OF NEW SCHOOL BUSES AND THE LEVYING OF THE TAX IN PAYMENT THEREOF"
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