Bonds for school projects are very similar to a home mortgage. They are used by schools to finance construction projects or purchase land. While a home mortgage may be through a bank, a school district sells bonds to investors who will be paid principal and interest.
Most school districts in Texas use bonds to finance renovations, additions and construction of new facilities. KISD does not receive any money from the state for the construction of new school buildings or improvements. Since school buildings serve the community for 50 or more years, it is well reasoned that taxpayers would pay for them over a period of 30 years and not from the district's annual operating budget.
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings and large-ticket items such as school buses. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as payroll, utilities, supplies, building maintenance, fuel, and insurance.
School districts are required by state law to ask their community voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise capital dollars to renovate existing buildings or build a new school. Essentially, it’s permission to take out a loan to build, renovate, and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home or home renovation. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for the proposed facility projects.
The November 2, 2021 bond is for $113 million and is divided into two propositions.
Proposition A: $109 million for Renovation, New Construction & Land Purchases for Educational Facilities.
Proposition B: $4 million for Stadium Renovation at R.E. St. John.
Throughout the Spring of 2021 presentations were made to various staff, program leaders, booster groups, and community groups who were consulted with about district academic and program requirements. In June of 2021, KISD formed a Facility Advisory Planning Committee comprised of 40-50 members; representing a cross-section of the Kilgore community. Their original charge was to review and district facilities, make a recommendation to KISD Board of Trustees that would be used to develop a long-range district facility plan. This committee met three times from June through August followed by a meeting where they reported their findings, consensuses and made a recommendation to the KISD Board of Trustees of facility priorities to address.
This committee toured Kilgore High School and Chandler Elementary School campuses, reviewed district needs assessments information, student enrollment trends, program enrollment trends, noted campus needs, observed educational and program spaces, the state of facility repairs/renovations scheduled as part of the capital improvement plan, age of existing facilities, and received information on operational issues related to capacity, space and safety from parents, teachers and campus leaders. This committee formed a consensus that Kilgore High School, originally built in 1932, and Chandler Elementary School built in 1960 were the priorities recommended to be addressed in the District Long Range Facility Plan. Kilgore HS due to its age was the committee’s unanimous highest priority followed by Chandler Elementary School. The age of each building and their infrastructure and safety and security concerns, academic space, programmatic capacity, ADA access, and districtwide technology upgrades form the basis for the Educational Facility Proposition A Recommendation. Proposition B starts to address R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium’s identified unaddressed ADA issues, along with seating, restroom, entrance and concession, field usage. The committee worked together to reach consensus on these priorities deemed most important to their final recommendation.
The Board of Trustees conducted a public workshop to receive and discuss the committee’s recommendation on August 5th. They held an additional board meeting on August 10th to further consider the recommendation and solutions which was followed by a special called board meeting on August 13, 2021. On August 13th the Kilgore Board of Trustees unanimously called for a bond election for November 2, 2021 to address these district’s facility recommendations.
A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two parts. The first part is the Maintenance and Operations budget (M&O), which funds daily costs and recurring or consumable expenditures such as teacher and staff salaries, supplies, software and utilities. The second part is the Interest and Sinking budget (I&S), also known as Debt Service, and that is for longer-term capital improvements approved by voters through bond elections. I&S funds cannot be used to pay M&O expenses, which means that voter-approved bonds cannot be used to increase teacher salaries, pay for rising costs for utilities, services, etc.
If bond proposal A and B pass, the District’s projected total tax rate would be $1.4603. This represents a monthly increase of approximately $14.69 a month for a KISD home with a taxable value of $100,000, and $34.27 month increase on a home with a taxable value of $200,000.
If you have applied for and received the Age 65 Freeze on your homestead, by law, your school taxes cannot be raised above their frozen level. The appraised value can change and the tax rate will change, but the amount of school taxes on your homestead cannot increase. Normal repairs, maintenance and the economic impact of the market cannot increase the amount of taxes you will pay once a tax ceiling is in place on that homestead. Therefore, if this bond election is successful, it will not have an impact on the tax bill for homesteads that are receiving the senior citizen exemption or “FREEZE”, unless you make significant improvements to your home by adding square footage or additional structures.
For questions about applying for your General Homestead Exemption for 65 and Over contact Rusk CAD at 903-657-3578 or Gregg CAD at 903-238-8823.
Any registered voter that resides within the Kilgore Independent School District boundaries.
The deadline for voter registration is October 4, 2021. If you are not registered to vote by this deadline, then you are not eligible to vote in this election. You can pick up a registration card from your local post office, the school district office 903-988-3900 or you can register online.
You should receive a Voter Registration Certificate within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring your certificate to your local polling place if you have it. However, all that is required is a valid form of photo ID.
The district will issue bonds to be paid in 30 years.
WHEN WILL THE TAX RATE GO INTO EFFECT, AND IF A RESIDENT TURNS 65 DURING THE YEAR THIS YEAR, DOES THAT MEAN THEY ARE EXEMPT FROM ANY INCREASE?
By law, tax statements are sent out the end of October and due the following January. If voters approve the bond referendum on November 2, 2021, they will see an impact on their tax bill in January 2023. The exemption is effective January 1 of the tax year in which the property owner becomes age 65. If a taxpayer had an over-65 exemption in place by December 31, 2021, there will be no impact from the increased rate. However, if a taxpayer turns 65 on or after January 1, 2021, they will not be exempt from the impact of the increased rate. Their "tax freeze" will be based on the 2022 values and the current school tax rate.
A specific timeline of projects will be finalized after a successful election. Tentatively, construction would begin a year after the election with a proposed completion in 2024 for all projects.