Leander ISD considers $1.5B in bond projects, November bond election

Education

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — The Leander Independent School District said 8,000 students could enroll in the next five years, so it’s weighing a November school bond election.

A subcommittee has put together a list of needs that add up to $1.5 billion. The Citizens’ Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) was made up of five subcommittees which reviewed potential projects covering elementary, middle and high school needs.

“I have a special needs child. It’s important to me that he’s able to use the playground equipment,” said Bethany Burnham.

Burnham, a Leander ISD parent of three, was on the elementary school subcommittee. She was a voice in making sure the school playground made it to the list of renovation improvements.

“We knew the $1.5 billion was never going to be what was actually put on the bond,” said Burnham.

Leander ISD doesn’t actually have the capacity to issue a $1.5 billion bond proposal within the district’s debt management structure, so the money will likely be significantly condensed.

What is in the bond capacity, according to Leander ISD, is anywhere from $600 million to $1 billion without raising the current tax rate.

Each committee spent several meetings discussing different projects, ultimately ranking the most critical projects into three tiers. The total tier one projects cost between $836.3 million and $926 million, depending on the number of years covered in the bond. The district is considering three, four and five years’ worth of projects. 

Ideas to be considered

Elementary Schools

  • building five new elementary schools
  • renovating and capital improvements at Bagdad, Block House Creek, Bush, Cox, Cypress, Deer Creek, Faubion, Giddens, Knowles, Mason, Nauman, Plain, Pleasant Hill, Rutledge, Steiner Ranch, Whitestone and Winkley
  • expanding and improving all elementary school playgrounds

Middle Schools

  • building one new middle school
  • renovating and making capital improvements at Cedar Park, Canyon Ridge, Henry, Leander and Running Brushy.

High Schools

  • constructing a new building for New Hope High School, the district’s current alternative high school for credit acceleration and recovery
  • designing and constructing a school of choice to offer high school students a small, specialized program to meet the needs for student choice and delay the need for a seventh comprehensive high school
  • constructing a new building for the district’s 18+ transition services program, serving students who qualify for special education services after high school graduation
  • renovating and making capital improvements at Leander, Cedar Park, and Vista Ridge high schools
  • replacing old instruments for high school band programs

Ancillary Services

  • building a new bus terminal facility in the southern part of the district to reduce fuel and vehicle costs by $435,000 per year
  • adding, renovating and installing secure vestibules at district facilities, including both transportation facilities, administration building and annex, support services building, technology building and the LEO Center

Technology

  • replacing classroom projectors with interactive panels to create more instructional space and increase functionality
  • refreshing student, teacher, and staff technology devices, including laptops
  • updating network infrastructure to improve internet access

From here, a steering committee appointed by the board of trustees and the administration will spend the next four to six weeks receiving the projects.

“Ultimately the steering committee would need to pass recommendations to our board of trustees. The board is the sole group that would need to call a bond election,” said Corey Ryan with Leander ISD communications.

Board members have until August to call a November bond election.

Leander ISD went to voters in 2017 for a $454 million bond, which voters approved across one proposition.

Before the November 2017 election, the district’s previous bond election was in 2007. The community committee responsible for reviewing the projects in 2017 identified about $1 billion in projects before reducing the final total by more than 50%.

The district will soon begin construction of the final school in the 2017 bond, elementary school 29, located in the Bryson subdivision in Leander. The school will open in August 2022. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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