Editor’s Note: The article was updated to reflect the extension of our ThoughtExchange survey through Jan. 3, 2022, as a result of the district-wide attendance rezoning exercise. This will allow us to track feedback as our community responds to these maps and materials. We also added details about our Board Cafe listening event for our community to talk with our Trustees.
We will be hosting a variety of surveys and outreach activities over the coming weeks to collect feedback for what comes next after voters did not approve propositions A and C in the Nov. 2 bond election.
Here are some of the ways you can help Leander ISD:
- Share your thoughts in our ThoughtExchange survey through January 3.
- Submit questions or feedback through Let’s Talk by clicking here or text messaging (512) 399-8392.
- Survey to Employees
ThoughtExchange is a survey tool we have used to collect and prioritize open-ended feedback. It allows you to respond to our question and rate the responses of other participants. The tool equally distributes the responses so you don’t have to rate every response to help us prioritize the big ideas and themes.
What should Leander ISD do next to address growth, aging facilities, and outdated equipment?ThoughtExchange Question
Other Efforts for Community Outreach
We also partnered with Baselice and Associates to conduct a phone survey with voters, allowing us to capture a representative sample of our electorate. You can see the surveys from Baselice in July 2021 and October 2021.
In addition to surveys, we plan to host focus groups and an in-person public forum in January. We will announce those dates and results as soon as possible.
Our Board of Trustees will host a Board Cafe event on Jan. 6, 2022, at the LEO Center from 6:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Participants can come to talk directly with Trustees, one-on-one to share feedback.
Board Continues Planning, Expects 4,778 New Students in 5 Years
The Board of Trustees discussed next steps for the district’s facilities and construction planning during the Nov. 16 meeting. During the meeting, our demographer presented the annual report detailing growth projections. The updated report shows the district can expect accelerated growth in the next five years with slower growth in years six through 10.
In addition to meeting the needs for growth, the district also has outdated equipment, infrastructure, school buses, and capital renewal needs (which includes HVAC, roof, and flooring updates) at 17 facilities, 13 of which are schools, costing approximately $200 million.
Because there are a lot of moving pieces and changing parts when understanding school finance and the future for Leander ISD, we have provided the following details and explanations. If you have any questions, please submit a Let’s Talk so we can provide additional resources.
Other Election Options and Considerations
Due to rising property values and the state’s funding formula for schools, which does not include additional funding for construction, facilities, or equipment, we also need to consider a Voter-Approved Tax Ratification Election (VATRE).
In a VATRE, the district asks voters to approve a swap in the tax rate, moving money from the debt service tax rate (I&S) to the operations tax rate (M&O). While a bond election is for construction and capital (i.e. stuff), a VATRE could allow the district to address compensation, staffing shortages, and other operational issues.
You can read more about ratification elections here:
- Texas Comptroller website,
- Texas School Boards Association (TASB) document, and
- other school district websites who have hosted VATRE elections (Lake Travis ISD, Pflugerville ISD, and Pearland ISD had recent elections).
While the state of Texas always requires districts to list a bond election item or a VATRE as a “tax rate increase” in ballot language, the options we are considering and discussing allow the district to maintain the current tax rate. You can read the legal language House Bill 3 Section 1.008 from the 86th legislative session.
District Faces Recapture in Coming Years
Due to changes in the funding formula and rising property values, we are also facing the state’s recapture system sooner than expected. When districts hit recapture, they need to start sending a portion of their local tax collections back to the state. The state uses the dollars from recapture to provide additional state funding to districts that do not generate as much revenue from their local tax collections. This program is also referred to as Robin Hood.
You can read more about recapture here:
- Texas Education Agency (TEA) webpage for Excess Local Revenue,
- Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) webpage for Finance, Taxation and Revenue, or
- other school district websites who pay into recapture (Austin ISD and Highland Park ISD).
You can read more about the Leander ISD budget and financing on our Financial Transparency webpage.