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Hays district seeks $250 million bond for new campuses, upgrades


More than three-quarters of the bond money is for new campuses, including a third high school.

Without a third high school, the other two campuses will be overcapacity by nearly 2,000 students by 2020.

The tax rate of 1.54 per $100 of assessed property value will remain unchanged under the proposal.

The Hays school district trustees have called for a $250 million bond package in May that, if voters approve, would build three new schools and new facilities or upgrades for student programs.

It is the largest school bond in the district’s history. The proposal comes 50 years after the school district was founded, consolidating three school systems (Buda, Kyle and Wimberley) into one with, then, just over 1,100 students.

The district’s growth has exploded in the past decade, increasing 61 percent since the 2006-07 school year, from 11,945 to 19,260 students this year.

The tax rate of 1.54 per $100 of assessed property value will remain unchanged under the proposal, district officials said.

More than three-quarters of the bond funds would go in the first proposition for new schools, largely to accommodate growth, and includes the district’s third high school and two elementaries, including replacing Buda Elementary School.

The district’s two high schools, with capacities of about 2,250 apiece, now have a combined enrollment of more than 5,400 students. Without a third high school, demographers project the schools’ enrollment would balloon to nearly 6,400 students total by 2020.

Buda Elementary, originally built in 1885, was rebuilt after a fire in the early 20th century, and its oldest building standing is from 1908. The school is broken into an upper and lower campus, and the lower school, built in the early 1980s near Onion Creek, has flooded twice in the past four years, district officials said. The district plans to keep the historic portion of the school and use it for an undetermined purpose.

About $60 million in a second proposition includes constructing new or adding to auto and vet tech buildings at the high schools, replacing a secondary music building, upgrading the district’s school libraries, upgrading athletic facilities, constructing a transportation building and upgrading districtwide technology and security.

A bond advisory committee originally presented $265 million in projects, but the school board whittled down the list to $250 million, which “they felt like it was a good number for people to support,” Superintendent Michael McKie said.

Hays joins two other Central Texas school districts seeking voter approval of bond packages in May: The 48,000-student Round Rock school district is seeking a $572 million bond package for two schools, an indoor aquatics center and designs for a permanent building for its early college and health professionals high school; the 1,540-student Jarrell school district has called for a $54 million bond package to build a second elementary school, an auditorium at the high school and a 12-classroom addition at both the high school and the middle school.

Election day is May 6, and early voting begins in late April.

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