Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district trustees voted Monday night to call a $199 million bond election to build two elementary schools and re-purpose another, renovate and expand all five junior high schools and upgrade technology across the district.
If approved by voters in the May 5 election, the bond issue would raise the tax rate by 9.4 cents over two years. For a taxpayer with a home valued at $200,000 and a standard homestead exemption, the increase would be about $164 a year. The district's current tax rate is $1.26 per $100 of assessed value.
"We want to have the facilities to educate our students the way we want to educate them," said Trustee Matt Romero. "This is strictly a needs-type bond."
H-E-B officials are expecting growth of about 400 new students a year for the next several years, growing from 23,400 students this year to more than 26,000 in 10 years. The district includes the growing Viridian master-planned community in north Arlington, with about 2,800 future homes within district boundaries, according to demographics consultant Bob Templeton. H-E-B already has an elementary school in Viridian.
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Board President Julie Cole said trustees and administrators spent the last three years looking at facilities needs and developing the bond proposal.
Most of the funds, $130 million, would go to build two elementary schools and classroom and science lab additions at each of the district's junior high schools. The new schools (combined cost of $74 million) would be in north Euless, at Midway Drive and International Boulevard, and in east Fort Worth, at Precinct Line Road and Trammel Davis Road.
Another $49 million would renovate and re-purpose West Hurst Elementary to become office space for special education staff members, improve interiors at the junior highs (they're all 35 to 45 years old), add an orchestra hall and cafeteria at Central Junior High School and relocate the main entry at Euless Junior High.
Technology upgrades for students, staff and infrastructure would take $20 million and would be on a six year term, instead of a 25 year term.
According to district officials, West Hurst Elementary is old and undersized for current educational practices. The plans are to use the building to house about 70 staff members in special education support services, who are currently in three different locations, including portable buildings. Students now at West Hurst would be re-zoned for other elementary schools.
David Garcia, deputy superintendent of business operations, said that the district's last bond in 2011 covered renovations and improvements at the high school level, so the needs are greatest now for junior high and elementary schools.
District officials will hold a series of informational meetings about the bond beginning Feb. 22. For more details on the meetings and the bond proposal, go to hebisdbond.com.
Early voting runs April 23 through May 1.