How was the Rockwall ISD bond package developed?
The Board of Trustees commissioned a facilities planning committee comprised of parents, grandparents, teachers and business leaders who took a comprehensive approach to develop the bond package. With the help of a professional facilitator, the 60-member committee combed through a facilities assessment, demographic projections, and financial data. They also reviewed modern academic needs, toured campuses and listened to the input of citizens from across the school district. After a little more than five months of extensive study, the facilities committee came to a consensus and recommended a $256,820,000 bond package to the Board of Trustees. On August 17th, the Board of Trustees unanimously called for the election to be placed on the November 3rd ballot.
Was every Rockwall ISD facility examined during the facilities assessment?
Yes. Every campus in the district was reviewed and assessed for needs such as renovations, technology, basic maintenance and capital upgrades. The goal was to impact every student in every school so each campus in the district is included in the bond package.
What is the College & Career Academy?
The College & Career Academy will be a part of the STEM program for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The Academy will offer pathways for students to explore professional certifications and career options including high-demand fields like nursing, engineering, graphic design, culinary arts, marketing and architecture. Visit www.RockwallISDBonds.com for a listing of additional career options offered. Open to all high school students, the Academy will maintain between 800 to 1,000 students throughout the day. The Academy will also be used by Texas A&M Commerce and Collin College for college course work for students and adults.
Will students attending the College & Career Academy maintain an existing campus as their home high school?
Yes. Students will still be a Yellowjacket or a Hawk. Building the Academy allows us to offer expanded opportunities to all students across the district with one facility rather than offering limited opportunities on multiple campuses. It should be noted that every high school student who utilizes the Academy would be able to participate in extracurricular activities at Rockwall High School or Rockwall Heath High School. The Academy also allows us to accommodate for growth at the high school level without adding a third high school at this time.
How quickly is Rockwall ISD growing?
Currently, Rockwall ISD has 15,440 students — that’s an increase of just over 5,000 students in the past 10 years, and this robust growth is expected to continue for many more years. In the next 5 years the student population is projected to increase by 1,765 (that’s 3 elementary schools) and in 10 years by 3,867 for a total of approximately 18,850 students.
When would we start seeing the projects constructed?
While the schedule for construction of the new elementary schools has not been finalized, within a few months of the referendum passing, capital improvements and maintenance projects will begin on campuses across the entire district. And, the College & Career Academy is scheduled to open in 2018 so construction for this facility should begin soon.
The Board of Trustees voted to fund technology needs from the district’s fund balance. So why is technology still in the bond package?
The Board of Trustees decided to fund a portion of the initial technology needs using some of the current fund balance with remaining technology needs staying part of the bond package. This will reduce the total amount of the bonds financed by the district.
If voters approve the bond package, what is going to be the impact on Rockwall ISD taxpayers?
When combined with the likely passage of the constitutional amendment providing for a larger homestead exemption, the property tax impact will be less than $10 per month on a $250,000 home – an increase that will be phased in over a four year period.
Will the property taxes paid by homeowners aged 65 and older be impacted by the bond proposal?
No. Citizens 65 years of age and over will see no increase in their property taxes above their current capped level.
Are computers, technology and buses financed by long-term bonds?
No. To save taxpayers, items in the bond package that have a short lifespan will only be financed by short-term bonds.
Since Rockwall ISD has a healthy fund balance, why doesn’t the district use those funds to maintain school facilities?
Ever mindful of their responsibility to taxpayers, the Board of Trustees and Administration want to maintain a healthy fund balance that is more than adequate to protect the district in times of emergencies. Though, as mentioned in an answer to a previous question regarding technology, the district will be using a small portion of the fund balance to help pay for a portion of the initial technology needs of the district.
Is now a good time to sell bonds for school district projects?
Our financial advisors believe so. Right now bond rates are near record lows, which will result in millions of dollars in savings over the life of the financed bonds.
How does the Rockwall ISD property tax rate compare to other school districts in the area?
Rockwall ISD has one of the lowest property tax rates among comparable districts in North Texas. And, we are proud to report the district is a recent recipient of several awards for transparency and financial integrity.
What are you doing to make it easier for working families to vote?
Due to the busy schedules of so many families in our community, this is a commonly asked question. To give as many voters as possible the opportunity to have a say in the bond referendum, we will be providing temporary early voting locations at several campuses across the district. These will be the same locations that were utilized in the 2007 Rockwall ISD bond election and will be in addition to the regular permanent early voting and Election Day locations. Visit www.RockwallISDBonds.com for more information on voting locations
What will happen to the existing Dobbs Elementary School?
To provide the students in the surrounding neighborhood the same quality of school as newer neighborhoods in Rockwall ISD, a new building will be constructed for current Dobbs Elementary school children at the site of the existing annex. The building that currently serves as home to Dobbs Elementary will remain, but will be repurposed for other uses by the district once the new school is completed.
Voters approved the construction of two elementary schools in 2007 but only one has been constructed so far. When will the remaining elementary school from that bond election be constructed?
After the passage of the 2007 bond election, the national recession slowed down new housing construction in Rockwall ISD. As a result, the School Board decided to hold off on selling the bonds for the second elementary school until student growth picked up again. Now, with the Texas economy prospering, Rockwall County has seen a boom in new housing construction making Rockwall ISD one of the fastest growing districts in Texas. As a result, the School Board has started preliminary planning for the construction of the second elementary school approved in 2007. To be built in the southern part of the district, it will relieve overcrowding concerns at Amy Parks-Heath Elementary.
Are there plans for a third high school?
A third comprehensive high school is not part of this bond proposal. Instead, the College and Career Academy was recommended by a 60-member citizens committee who developed the bond proposal after listening to the input of citizens from across the school district. The Academy will serve approximately 800-1000 students from both our current high schools – this will extend the capacity at the two high schools for approximately eight more years when there will be a need to address a third high school in a future bond. Students will travel to the Academy during the day to take advantage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses and specialty Career/Tech programs. Even though they attend the Academy for some classes, students will still be enrolled at RHS or RHHS and will participate in other classes and extracurricular activities at their home campus. For more information, please click on the “College & Career Academy” link on the right side of this page.
This bond packages includes two new elementary schools. Where will these elementary schools be located?
With two new elementary schools planned for Rockwall ISD, the exact locations of the schools have not yet been determined, though we are certain that one will be built in the northern part of the district and the other in the southern part of the district. It will take additional analysis and evaluation by district staff – with input from parents – before the final locations for these two elementary schools are determined.
How will the new elementary schools impact attendance zones?
The final attendance zones and transition plans will be developed prior to the opening of the new elementary schools with input from parents in nearby neighborhoods.
When and at what rate will you be selling the bonds?
The district’s financial services consultant, First Southwest, has not yet set an exact date for selling the school district bonds. Bond rates will be determined at the time of the sale. Fortunately, the current interest rates for school district bonds are low which will result in savings for taxpayers.