The Katy ISD Board of Trustees has voted to call a May bond election which includes four propositions totaling $676.2 million. The bond package was developed with input from the district’s …
Editor's Note: Please scroll to the bottom of this article to view a video interview with Katy ISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski.
The Katy ISD Board of Trustees has voted to call a May bond election which includes four propositions totaling $676.2 million. The bond package was developed with input from the district’s 110-person Community Bond Advisory Committee – or CBAC.
“Now, the reason that the bond committee is even considering or has considered bringing forth a bond package is because of the growth of our community, and what fuels that growth is the excellence and the tradition of our school district,” said KISD Chief Communications Officer Andrea Grooms.
At prior trustee meetings, representatives from Population and Survey Analysts, the KISD’s demographics consultant, said increased growth in the northwestern quadrant of the district would require additional campuses to meet district needs. PASA representatives said the growth was in part due to KISD’s reputation which promotes rapid development. The district is projected to grow from just more than 84,000 students today to a projected student body of more than 115,000 learners soon after 2030.
Growth and aging campuses prompted the bond package to be considered, Grooms said. The CBAC met three times in January to hear briefings from KISD representatives explaining the district’s needs for growth and campus renovations and upgrades. Committee members debated the district’s needs based upon that feedback and came forth with the four-proposition bond package supported by more than two-thirds of CBAC members, Grooms said.
The bond package includes:
If approved by voters, the bond package would pay for a new high school, a junior high, three elementaries, renovations and expansions at aging campuses including Hutsell and Winborn elementaries and a northwest transportation center. All told, about 7,500 new classroom seats would be supported by the bond, Grooms said.
If the propositions are approved by voters, Grooms said the district’s $0.39000 per $100 valuation debt service property tax rate was projected to remain the same and not increase.
KISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski said that the district understands the tax rate isn’t the only factor in total tax bills, because appraisals factor in as well. Due to Katy ISD being an attractive area, home values tend to rise as parents move to Katy seeking educational opportunities for their children. As a result, home values increase – causing tax bills to increase, he said.
KISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith said the average KISD home had increased in value by $101,338 since 2011 due to increased appraisals. Despite the district lowering tax rates between then and 2021, the typical KISD portion of a median-value home’s tax bill had increased by $924. Gregorski and Smith both said the district expects the maintenance and operation rate to continue to lower over time, given current projections to help offset property value increases.
Smith said bonds would not all be sold immediately, but over time as projects required funding.
Gregorski said his concern if the bond proposals do not pass is that current campuses will become overcrowded, leading the district to look at attendance boundary modifications and portable classrooms. The problem would be especially evident in Katy and Paetow high schools, he said, along with McElwain, Bethke and Leonard elementary with those high school campuses projected to be oversaturated by about 2,500 students.
Gregorski said the district wants to use the bonds to create and upgrade campuses to serve students interested in the arts as much as for athletes. He also said it is important to maintain a high standard for campuses to provide equal facilities so students see the same opportunities throughout the district.
“That’s why we build the facilities that we do have,” Gregorski said. “And we have huge numbers of kids participate in art in music, orchestra, theater (and) dance. … Yes, we have traditional athletic programs that use gym space, but we also have cheerleaders who are part of our fine arts program. They use gym space, and we have dance teams, and we have color guards – and all of those folks need space as well in (gyms).”
He also said the district wants to ensure voters are educated about the bonds.
“What I’d say to our voters is we want (them) to be informed voters and understand what we’re trying to accomplish in Katy ISD and what we’re trying to build for the future of Katy ISD, and if anyone had questions about the bond, we’re here to provide those factual responses. We can share information about what’s in the bond package and we can help educate our voters to make an informed decision,” Gregorski said.
Early voting for the KISD bond referendum and other elections will be held April 19-27 and election day will be May 1. Those wishing to find additional information about the district’s bond proposal may visit the district’s 2021 bond website at: https://www.katyisd.org/sites/bonds/Pages/default.aspx.