BGC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is the Bearcat Growth Committee?

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    The Bearcat Growth Committee is a group of 38 Aledo ISD community members, parents and teachers from each campus. The BGC was constructed from a combination of appointments by the Aledo ISD Board of Trustees, nominations from campus administrators and applications submitted by interested community members. The purpose of the BGC is to represent the Aledo ISD community in the study of data related to enrollment, finances, instructional priorities and facility needs, and in recommending to the Board of Trustees a bond program to address district-wide facility needs due to growing student enrollment and aging facilities.

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  • Who is on the BGC?

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    The BGC includes teachers from each campus, parents and community members. The members are from a wide range of professional backgrounds and also include those without children in the district.

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  • Who leads the BGC meetings?

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    The BGC meetings are led by Aledo ISD community members and Co-Chairs Christi James and Jim Scott. Having community co-chairs driving the BGC process as representatives of the community is an adjustment the District has made in the process.

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  • What is the charge of the BGC by the School Board?

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    The Bearcat Growth Committee is charged by the Board of Trustees to:
    -represent the priorities, expectations, and values of the entire community,
    -consider the needs of all of the district’s students,
    -use facts and data to make informed decisions,
    -recommend a program that meets the district’s building capacity needs for as long as possible and extends the life of facilities where possible,
    -understand the district’s finances to develop a program that is fiscally sound, and
    -recommend to the Board of trustees a bond program and the associated request of voters for a possible November 2019 bond election.

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  • What do they discuss at BGC meetings?

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    During the BGC meetings, committee members examine Aledo ISD information provided by the District's demographers and financial advisors. They will also tour facilities and evaluate, analyze and synthesize data about enrollment, finances, instructional priorities and facility needs, as well as community, staff and student feedback. The committee also works toward building a bond program recommendation for the Board of Trustees to consider.

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  • Where can I find information from the meetings?

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    Informational documents from each meeting are shared on the Aledo ISD district website on the Bearcat Growth Committee pages. These webpages will provide all information related to meetings and information presented and will be continually updated. Click here to visit the BGC webpage.

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  • When does the BGC meet?

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    The BGC held its first meeting January 24, 2019, and will have additional meetings in February, March, April, May and August. The schedule is subject to change by the BGC. Click here to view the BGC meeting schedule. The meetings, unless otherwise noted, are held at the Aledo ISD administration building, located at 1008 Bailey Ranch Road. Meetings are open to the public.

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  • How can I receive district communications if I'm not a parent?

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    A great way for community members to stay connected with all messages from Aledo ISD is by downloading the district's mobile app. Aledo ISD pushes district-wide messages and important alerts out via the notifications function inside the app. This is the best way to get messages from the Superintendent and important alerts. The free app is available in the App Store and Google Play.


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  • What was included in past bond programs?

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    Aledo ISD has created a webpage which details past bond programs. Click here to view a full history of these programs in Aledo ISD from 2001 to 2015.

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Finance

  • What are the two components of the tax rate?

    Public school taxes involve two figures, which divide the school district budget into two “buckets.” The first bucket is the Maintenance and Operations budget (M&O), which funds daily costs and recurring or consumable expenditures such as teacher and staff salaries, supplies, utilities, etc. Approximately 82 percent of the district’s M&O budget goes to teacher and staff salaries. 

    The second bucket is the Interest and Sinking budget (I&S), also known as Debt Service, and that is used to repay debt for longer-term capital improvements approved by voters through bond elections. Proceeds from a bond issue can be used for the construction and renovation of facilities, the acquisition of land and the purchase of capital items such as equipment, technology and transportation. I&S funds cannot by law be used to pay M&O expenses, which means that voter-approved bonds cannot be used to increase teacher salaries or pay rising costs for utilities and services.

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    How does Aledo ISD's tax rate compare to those in neighboring school districts?

    The chart below shows 2018-2019 tax rates for Aledo ISD and each school district adjacent to Aledo ISD. Click here to view a PDF of the chart.

    tax rate comparison

    What types of revenue does the District receive in the General Fund?

    The District’s General Fund is where the day-to-day operational expenses of the District are paid. In this fund, the District receives three types of revenues, local revenues, state revenues, and federal revenues. The primary source of General Fund local revenues is property taxes from the M&O portion of the property tax rate. Some of the additional local revenue sources are athletic revenues, fees from the rental of district facilities, and interest income earnings.

    State revenues in the General Fund come from the Texas Education Agency with the amount being determined according to the public school finance funding formulas set by the Texas Legislature. Federal revenues in the General Fund are reimbursements from School Health and Related Services (SHARS). The chart below reflects the General Fund revenue sources for the current and prior fiscal years.

    general fund chart

  • How does Aledo ISD’s amount of debt compare with other school districts?

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    This question may be answered by looking at the District’s outstanding voter-approved debt in a variety of ways. Many different comparisons may be found by reviewing the report the District’s Financial Advisor, BOK Financial Securities, recently presented to the District’s Board of Trustees and Bearcat Growth Committee. Click here to view the report.

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  • What has the District done to payoff debt?

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    When interest rates are low or decline, a family will often refinance their home mortgage to take advantage of these lower interest rates. Much like that family, the District has prudently managed the District’s outstanding voter-approved bonds. Whether by refinancing bonds at a lower interest rate, prepaying bonds before final maturity, or utilizing variable rate bonds, the District has provided its taxpayers with more than $34 million of direct savings since 2006.


    Much more detail on these debt management practices and savings may be found in the report the District’s Financial Advisor, BOK Financial Securities, recently presented to the District’s Board of Trustees and Bearcat Growth Committee. Click here to view the report.

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  • Is the District’s I&S tax rate subject to recapture?

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    No, the District’s I&S tax rate is not subject to recapture. The District keeps 100% of the property taxes collected from the I&S or debt service portion of the District’s tax rate.

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  • What is the history of tax rate changes in Aledo ISD?

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    The chart below shows the Aledo ISD tax rates from the 2005-2006 fiscal year to the current fiscal year. Following are brief explanations of the circumstances contributing to the changes in tax rates. 
    After the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the Texas Legislature mandated the reduction or compression of the M&O tax rate over the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 years for all school districts in Texas. The I&S tax rate increased in the 2008-2009 year to start repaying bonds authorized and sold from the passage of the 2008 bond election.

    In the 2010-2011 year, the I&S tax rate was reduced by 13 cents and the M&O tax rate was increased by 13 cents to reflect district voters passing a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) in August 2010. As you will note, the total tax rate remained the same.

    In the 2015-2016 year, the I&S tax rate increased by 16.98 cents as a result of voters approving the 2015 Bond Program (7.31 cents) and the elimination of the TRE “Tax Swap” subsidy (9.67 cents).


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  • What is the relationship between local revenues and state revenues?

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    Under current public school funding formulas, there is an inverse relationship between local revenues and state revenues. If local revenues increase, there is a corresponding decrease in state revenues. Alternatively, if local revenues were to decrease then state revenues would increase.


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Bond Overview

  • What does bond capacity mean?

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    Bond capacity is defined as the amount of new debt the District can issue in light of the District’s current I&S tax rate and within the limitations of state law.

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  • What is a bond election?

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    School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise the capital dollars required for projects such as renovation to existing buildings or building a new school. Through this, voters are giving permission for the district to take out a loan and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed facility projects.

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  • What is a bond?

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    A bond is comparable to a home mortgage. A bond is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to competing lenders to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Bonds are utilized by most schools in the state to finance facilities.

     

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  • What is AISD Doing Differently During This Bond Planning Process?

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    • Bearcat Growth Committee meetings are led by community member co-chairs instead of outside consultants.
    • AISD now employs a construction professional, the Director of Construction & Facilities.
    • AISD is communicating consistently with the community about the work of the Bearcat Growth Committee.
    • AISD will engage in a competitive process to choose professional service providers for any bond projects.
    • AISD’s consultant architecture firm will not bid on any bond projects.

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  • Can bond funds be used to pay for day-to-day operational expenses?

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    No. Bond funds from a successful bond election may only be used for the construction/renovation of facilities, the acquisition of land, and the purchase of capital items such as equipment, technology, and school buses. Bond funds may not be used to pay for M&O expenses, the day-to-day operational expenses of the District, including teacher salaries, new teaching positions, utilities, fuel, classroom supplies, etc.

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  • How can bond funds be used?

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    Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisitions, technology infrastructure, buses and equipment for new or existing buildings. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as utilities, instructional materials, fuel and insurance.

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  • What are the District’s bond ratings?

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    S&P Global Ratings assigns a “AA-” credit rating to the District, defined as “Having a very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. It differs from the highest rating only to a small degree.” 
    Fitch Ratings, Inc. assigns a “AA” credit rating to the District, defined as “Very high quality. A “AA” rating denotes expectations of very low default risk and very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.”

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  • What impacts bond capacity?

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    Bond capacity increases as property tax values grow, bonds are repaid, and/or the District reduces its interest rate/borrowing costs.

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  • If technology & buses are purchased with bonds, does the District pay these over 30 years?

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    No, the District does not do this. The District fully repays bonds issued for projects based on their estimated useful lives. Repayment schedules are five years for technology items and 10 years for technology infrastructure items and school buses.

     

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  • How will the District decide the location of the new schools?

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    The location of new schools will depend heavily on the school sites that the District owns at the time that the schools are constructed. Other data that will be considered in determining where to locate schools include demographic projections for geographic areas in the District, roadway access and capacity, and the availability of water and wastewater utilities.

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  • What is the District doing to find land for new schools?

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    The District is actively looking for property for new schools, and has engaged a real estate broker to pursue tracts that are both on- and off-market. The District is also actively negotiating with residential real estate developers to obtain donated tracts for schools.

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  • How do the rating agencies, such as S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, determine their rating for

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    The bond rating that a rating agency assigns a school district is an indication of the credit worthiness of the District. Among the items the rating agencies will review are the following: the district’s financial statements and audit reports, property tax values, composition of the property tax base, and property tax value changes, any positive/negative changes impacting the major employers in the District, and the length of time the Superintendent and Senior Administrative Staff have worked in the District.

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Construction

  • How long does it take to build a new school?

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    A typical delivery schedule for a new elementary school to include planning, programming, design and construction is 24 months. A typical delivery schedule for a new middle school to include planning, programming, design and construction is 30 months. Delivery schedules may vary based on site and construction market conditions.

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  • What is the difference between functional and maximum capacity? And who sets this?

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    The maximum capacity of a school is having every seat filled in every designated teaching space for every period of the school day. Building and life-safety codes may be impactful on this number. Functional capacity takes into consideration schedule flexibility, average designed student-to-teacher ratio, and desired use of spaces. Capacity values for a school are determined by the physical space available.

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  • What size land does the district need for a school?

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    The ideal property size for school sites in Aledo ISD are as follows:

    Elementary: 15-20 acres
    Middle School: 35-40 acres
    High School: 75-100 acres
     

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  • What land does the district own for future school sites?

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    The district currently owns two tracts of land that are intended to house instructional facilities in the future:

    • 20 acres on FM 5, across FM 5 and just north of the Annetta Cemetery
    • 135 acres on Old Weatherford Road adjacent to Holy Redeemer Catholic Church

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Demographics

  • How accurate were the demographic reports prior to the past two bond elections in 2015 and 2017?

    These charts reflect the actual student enrollment by campus over the course of the instructional year noted and the related demographic projections. The demographic projections are compared to enrollment on the October date noted, as this is the date the demographers use to make their projections.

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  • How and when will attendance zones be constructed in the future?

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    If voters approve bonds to construct a new campus or campuses, approximately 12-18 months prior to the opening of the campus, an attendance zone committee will be appointed by the Board of Trustees. The committee will be constructed in a way that is similar to how the BGC has been constructed, with a diverse community and AISD staff representation. This committee will work, over a period of months, to review, analyze, and synthesize data to include up-to-date student demographic projections, housing development projections, campus capacities, instructional programming needs, AISD transportation data, and community feedback.

    Like with the BGC, information about the attendance zone committee process and the committee’s work will be available to the community through the AISD website and frequent communications with staff, parents, and community members through social media, e-mails, community presentations, Board of Trustees meetings, press releases, and newsletters.

    The attendance zone committee will recommend proposed attendance zones to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will have the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions to be considered by the committee. Ultimately, the Board of Trustees will be asked to approve attendance zones prior to the opening of new campuses.

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  • What impact is the announced future large Bear Creek residential development expected to have?

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    In February 2019, the media announced that a Dallas-based developer had purchased a 2,000-acre tract of land on Bear Creek Road in the southern part of Aledo ISD and is planning a large residential subdivision for the location. Given the information that is available to the District, after meeting with a representative of the developer, and in consultation with the District’s demographers, the District expects that this planned development will most likely not begin to impact enrollment in the next 5 years, but may do so in the next 10 years. However, please note that circumstances may change, and the District will diligently monitor the situation to have the best understanding of the timing and extent of the planned development.


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