Wednesday, August 02, 2006

$57 bond issue program passes important hurdle


The projects involved in Mission CISD’s (Consolidated Independent School District) $57 million bond issue program jumped a major hurdle today. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has notified the district that its application for Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA) assistance will be funded. Through this program, the state helps school districts with lower property valuations pay for construction of instructional facilities.
 
“We had early indications that we would be funded,” explained Oscar Rodriguez, Jr., superintendent. “However, until you get the official notification, you just never know. Consequently, we proceeded with our plans with some caution. Now we can move forward with selling our bonds and construction planning.”
 
Rodriguez also indicated the formal approval from TEA was needed in order to make final adjustments to the district budget and proposed tax rate for the coming school year.
Under the state IFA program, the state will pay 77% of the $57 million with Mission CISD taxpayers responsible for the other 23%. District taxpayers overwhelmingly approved the bond issue and increases in property taxes this past May.
 
Mission CISD plans to increase property taxes two cents this coming year, two more cents the second year and then possibly three cents the year after that for a potential total tax increase over three years of seven cents. District officials are hoping all seven cents won’t be required.
 
District officials say they plan to sell the bonds later this month and actually receive the money from the sale in September. The funds will then be invested until needed to pay for the upcoming construction projects. Interest earned from the bond money will allow Mission CISD to address additional facility needs in addition to what was a part of the official bond proposal.
 
The bond program approved by voters included: construction of a new elementary school; construction of a new middle school; construction of a performing arts facility for each of the district’s two high schools; renovations/additions to Mission High School, Cantu Elementary, Leal Elementary, Mims Elementary, O’Grady Elementary; and air conditioning system renovations for Waitz Elementary and K. White Jr. High.
 
Architects/engineers have already been selected for the projects. The district is now in the process of finalizing contracts with those firms so that project designing can begin as soon as possible.
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