Dripping Springs school district puts $132 million bond on May ballots


Highlights

The bond projects are aimed at addressing growth in the district.

The bond would build an elementary, expand the high school and construct a new Walnut Springs Elementary.

Dripping Springs voters in May will decide on a $132 million school bond package, the largest in the district’s history.

The bond projects are aimed at addressing growth in the 6,464-student district, which is projected to continue growing by about 6 percent annually.

The bond would fund construction of an 850-student elementary school, expansion of Dripping Springs High School and the building of a new Walnut Springs Elementary School. It would also pay for converting the current Walnut Springs campus into space for administration offices and child care facility; expanding the transportation facility; maintaining current campuses and purchasing land, among other things.

District officials say the bond projects can be paid for without increasing the district’s current tax rate of $1.52 per $100 of property value. For the owner of a $350,000 home — the average home value in the Dripping Springs district — annual school property taxes in 2017 were about $5,320.

More than 100 parents and community members worked on a needs list totaling about $170 million. The work then went to a bond steering committee, which prioritized the list and whittled it down.

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The call for new facilities comes as the district finishes the remaining projects from its $92.4 million bond election in 2014.

The high school expansion would increase the capacity of Dripping Springs High by 650 students to 2,500 students. Walnut Springs Elementary would move to adjacent space next to Dripping Springs Middle School as part of a plan to put elementaries next door to middle schools as the district grows.

“We have to look at the big picture of the district, and try to make sure we maintain equity as we build new schools,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing said. “This is one way to do that.”

Community members will be able to provide input into the design of the new campuses.

The existing Walnut Springs campus will be converted into the district administration building, which also houses a child care center for employees and some community members.

The current administration building’s location, 510 W. Mercer St., would be home to a new town center, a collaborative project between the district, the city and the city library.

Voters in 2016 approved a so-called “tax swap” that gives the district more flexibility for funding bond projects without raising the overall tax rate. While the tax rate is expected to remain unchanged, property taxes are likely to go up next year as property values increase.



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