Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is a school bond? A: A school bond is a promissory note – it is a promise to pay back a certain amount of money that is being borrowed for a specific use, and it will be paid back with interest. Under Texas law, school districts can issue bonds for several purposes, including the purchase of land or the construction/renovation of school facilities. There are also laws and regulations on how school districts issue bonds.
Q: How is a school bond issued? A: School districts may issue bonds to pay for construction, acquisition, and equipment of school buildings; maintenance and repairs of facilities, acquisition or refinancing of property; and/or the purchase of sites for school buildings. School bonds are used as a primary source for school districts to help pay for costly school facilities projects.
Q: How is a school bond passed? A: A school bond must be approved by a majority of voters who live within the school district’s boundaries.
Q: When was the last time YISD passed a bond and what was the amount? A: It has been 11 years since the passage of the last YISD bond, which totaled $250 million. With that bond, we were able to complete about 350 facilities projects.
Q: Is this school bond really needed? A: Yes. Ysleta ISD is 100 years old, and many of our schools have deteriorated to the point where they must be repaired, rebuilt, or modernized. About 70 percent of our schools are between 25 and 98 years old, and many of our building systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.) are at the end of their useful lives. The proposed bond projects would impact every student, teacher, and campus at YISD.
Q: Who decided which schools would be rebuilt/renovated with bond money? Who decided the amount of the bond? A: The bond project list was determined by a Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) comprised of parents, business leaders, community advocates, elected officials, and representatives appointed by the YISD Board of Trustees. The 73-member BAC was tasked with learning about the district’s facilities needs and goals, then coming to consensus on a bond referendum that would support district goals, meet student needs, reflect good stewardship, and be supported by the community. The BAC collectively decided which bond projects were a priority for bond funding, and the cost of those projects totaled $430.5 million – or the total bond amount being proposed.
Q: Other than building new schools, what other kinds of facilities projects are being proposed? A: Upgrades to athletic facilities are being proposed, including artificial turf at all high school stadiums, new gymnasiums, improvements such as new lighting for baseball/softball fields and tennis courts, and other improvements for baseball/softball fields. In order to create 21st-century learning environments, technology improvements would include full wireless connectivity and increased bandwidths at all district schools and facilities. In addition, various campuses would receive replacements and upgrades in critical areas, such as roofs, electrical and plumbing systems, and HVAC, as well as new doors, windows, and restrooms. These upgrades would also help increase the district’s energy-efficiency as well.
Q: Why do YISD schools have to be closed, consolidated, or modernized? A: Enrollment at YISD has been decreasing for several years. Currently, there are 17,000 empty classroom seats, and some of our schools are less than half-full! By closing or repurposing campuses, we can right-size the district and create modern learning environments that will help prepare our students to compete in a global economy. The bond would also help us replace or upgrade critical areas like roofs, electrical systems, HVAC, restrooms, and structural deficiencies at several campuses.
Q: How will new schools be designed? A: New schools will meet all modern building codes and standards, and reflect a 21st-century learning environment with technological and safety features.
Q: What if the bond fails? A: If the bond is not approved, YISD school buildings will continue to deteriorate. If the bond doesn’t pass, schools will still be consolidated and/or closed, and students would attend old, existing schools. The district will likely not be able to bring another bond referendum to voters before 2017.
Q: What effect will this school bond have on teahers and staff? A: In cases of consolidations or closures, teachers will follow the students, as will other positions like cafeteria staff and custodians. Faculty and staff will not lose their jobs due to the passage of the bond or the process of consolidating schools.
Q: I am a senior citizen on a fixed income. How am I supposed to afford any kind of property tax increase? A: Fortunately, homeowners who are 65 and older will not see an increase in their YISD property taxes if the proposed bond is approved. These taxpayers must file for this exemption with the El Paso County tax office.
Q: When will this bond be decided? A: Voters who live within YISD boundaries can cast their vote at their local precinct, or polling place, on Election Day, which takes place Nov. 3. Early voting runs from Monday, Oct. 19 to Friday, Oct. 30. Visit www.epcountyvotes.com to find your polling place or get information on how to participate in early voting.
Q: If the school bond is approved, will the tax rate go up? Doesn't this mean YISD homeowners will pay more taxes than other local districts? A: If the bond is approved, the YISD tax rate will increase 12 cents, from the current $1.36 per $100 of home value to $1.48. However, our homeowners pay the least amount of taxes when compared to neighboring school districts. That’s because YISD homeowners enjoy a 20% local exemption on their property taxes, and this significantly decreases their tax bills.