The La Porte Independent School District Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Feb. 7 unanimously approved calling a school bond election for May 6, 2023.
A committee of community members developed the proposal in conjunction with district staff and administration. Their task was to develop and present to the Board of Trustees a long-term plan that included a recommendation for implementation.
“I want to thank our board, staff, and community for their work over the past 18 months to help get us to this point,” La Porte ISD Superintendent Dr. Walter Jackson said. “This decision is based on carefully considering all areas of need around our district while balancing the expectations of our community. We will send out more information leading up to election day to keep our community informed about this bond's facts.”
Texas school districts do not receive state funding for renovating or building new schools. Instead, they must receive funds through school bond elections. La Porte ISD has a Superior (financial) Achievement Rating “A” and has one of the lowest tax rates among surrounding districts.
The 2023 Bond will ask voters to consider a $235 million package in three propositions.
Proposition A ($164 million) – includes safety and security enhancements; facilities upgrades; furniture, fixtures and equipment; school bus replacement; educational center/field house
Proposition B ($15 million) – 1:1 devices for K-12 students, teachers and staff; teacher technology docking stations, monitors, wireless access; technology upgrades in phases over 10 years
Proposition C ($56 million) – Bulldog Stadium replacement; safety and security enhancements; fully ADA and UIL compliant
Homeowners age 65 and older will not be impacted by the passage of the bond propositions if they have filed for and received the Over 65 Homestead Exemption with the Harris County Central Appraisal District. Their school district taxes will not exceed the frozen dollar amount. Ballot language will include the statement "THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE." Legislation passed in the 2019 Texas Legislative Session requires that school districts include this language, regardless of the bond's impact on the district’s tax rate. For more information, go to bond.lpisd.org.
Early voting begins April 24 and ends May 2; Election Day is Saturday, May 6.
A school district tax rate is made up of two different tax rates. The first is Maintenance & Operations (M&O) which covers the day-to-day costs of running a school district with most going towards salaries and utilities. The second is Interest & Sinking (I&S) which is solely used for paying down debt. LPISD’s 2022-2023 M&O tax rate is $.9746 and I&S tax rate is $0.2819 for a total tax rate of $1.2565. Our school tax rate is significantly lower than the surrounding districts of Deer Park (1.2822), Goose Creek (1.3574), and Pasadena (1.3353).
It is important to La Porte ISD and our community stakeholders to find a plan that would not increase the school tax rate. We are working with our financial consultant to determine our bonding capacity ceiling and ensure we stay below that amount that would result in a tax increase.
Since LPISD’s last bond election, the legislature passed a new law requiring school districts to include the language “THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE”, even when the district is not expecting a rate increase. This is because the issuance of new bonds increases the term of the debt repayment at the current rate.
The district does not make more money when property values increase due to two factors: Property Tax Compression: Property Tax Rate Compression was implemented in the 2019 legislative session under HB3 and SB2. As property values go up, the M&O tax rate goes down, resulting in neutral revenue for the district.
Recapture: La Porte ISD is classified as “property wealthy” and subject to the state’s Recapture (”Robin Hood”) Tax. In the 2021-2022 school year, La Porte ISD’s Robin Hood payment was $48 million. This is more than 40% of your locally generated operating tax revenue.
For residents 65-years and older, their school district tax bill will not increase, even if their property values increase (excluding major property improvements) as long as an approved Homestead and Over-65 Exemption application is on file with the Harris County Appraisal District, and the property has been owned as of Jan. 1 of the tax year.
Planning for the district’s current and future needs is one of the fundamental duties of school boards and district administrators. As such, there is a constant evaluation of facilities and other needs considering the age of district-owned structures, changes in technology, and even changes in instruction. When the district determines that it has needs beyond the capacity of the maintenance and operations budget, the Board of Trustees may issue a bond. The maintenance and operations budget covers the day-to-day expenses of the district, where 86% is directed toward staff salaries and benefits.
The Texas Education Agency in the Financial Integrity Ratings System of Texas (Schools FIRST Rating) sets the guidelines for school districts to have three months of operating expenditures in fund balance. Maintaining the required fund balance as well as the operational needs of the district (with limited state funding) may restrict districts from building adequate savings to fund facilities and infrastructure needs to accommodate construction costs of building a new facility or repairing and renovating an older one.
The link below includes photos of Bulldog Stadium, taken by Matrix Structural Engineering Group in December 2021. Some photos show structural damage, while others show deterioration following recent repairs.
A bond is like a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to competing lenders to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations, and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance renovations and the construction of new facilities.
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, athletic structures, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel, and insurance.
La Porte ISD’s last bond was in 2014 for $260,000,000. Before that, the last bond was in 2005 for $203,108,000. Historically, each bond has been set up to support 8-10 years of facility and district needs.
The district began exploring the idea of a bond election nearly two years ago with district and campus teams outlining needs. Since then, third party experts have conducted facility assessments, surveys, and financial reviews. LPISD then put together an advisory committee comprising of local community members, business leaders, parents, and staff. The committee has met several times and is continuing to meet to evaluate and prioritize the district’s current and future needs.
Moving forward with a bond election, La Porte ISD has a duty to inform our entire community on the specifics of the bond, the projects included, and how it will impact taxpayers, but more importantly how it will impact our students. The district will host public meetings for anyone in the community to attend, present information at each campus, share details via website and social media, mail, and news outlets, to name a few. If you want to make sure you are receiving information or have suggestions on how better to reach our community at large, please let us know using this email address email@example.com It’s important that our community members be fully educated on the whole bond process and fully empowered to vote how they see fit.
La Porte ISD Spring Job Fair
Want to learn more about joining the La Porte ISD family? Pre-register for the Spring Job Fair to find a position in which you can make a difference. See you THIS THURSDAY, March 23 from 5-7 p.m. at the Bulldog Centre! Choose Excellence. Choose La Porte ISD.