Farmersville unified places bond measure on November ballot

Farmersville Unified places a bond of up to $8.6 million for improvement projects on the ballot in November

FARMERSVILLE – The Farmersville Unified School District (FUSD) board approved a resolution during the July 19 meeting to put a new school bond on the ballot in November.

The measure will have to be approved by 55% of voters in November to be passed. If approved, FUSD will be able to use up to $8.6 million for improvement projects related to school facilities. 

If passed, no funds from the new bond will go to teachers’ or administrators’ salaries. The funds will go directly to updating school facilities, including construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities. This may also include furnishing or equipping school facilities.

Suggestions for improvement projects include: building a new cafeteria at Farmersville High School, constructing new 21st century classrooms and school facilities – including Ag facilities, replacing temporary portables with permanent classrooms at Snowden and Farmersville Junior High School and improving student access to computers and technology overall. At the meeting, the board spent time discussing the new multi-purpose cafeteria at Farmersville High School as a priority for the bond money.

The bond includes accountability measures to ensure that taxpayers’ money will be spent wisely. If the measure is approved by voters, an independent citizens’ oversight committee will be established to ensure bond proceeds will only be spent on facilities projects listed in the bond measure. The board will also conduct annual, independent financial and performance audits.

The board will be made up of people from the community. An invitation to apply to be on the committee will go out if the bond is passed. “We want people that represent different parts of the city,” Executive Director of Personnel for FUSD Jeff Wimp said. “We want representatives from city government, utilities, parent groups, stakeholder groups and city business owners.”

The cost to taxpayers for the $8.6 million bond will be at a rate of $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

That means that if someone owns $100,000 worth of property in Farmersville, $60 will be added to their yearly taxes to directly pay for the bond. According to DataUSA, the median property value in Farmersville is about $150,000. At the proposed tax rate, the average homeowner will pay $90 per year or $7.50 per month in taxes to pay off the bond. In other words, the measure will add 0.06% of a property’s value to the property owner’s yearly taxes.

Typically paying off a bond like this takes about 30 years, so property owners can expect to pay this rate through 2042 if the measure is passed. FUSD still has an outstanding bond from Measure A, passed in 2014, of $4.8 million. Homeowners already pay about $5 per month on average for that bond. 

California voters did not approve the last proposed statewide school construction bond measure on the March 2020 ballot. The proposition was a $15 billion statewide school construction bond that only received 44% of the vote. The board considered putting another bond on the June 2022 primary ballot, but the school board determined the bond needed to be reworked.

“There were some concerns with how that bond was laid out,” Wimp said, “so we wanted more survey information before we moved forward.”

FUSD conducted a survey to determine which facility upgrades are a priority for the community over the last year. A phone survey went out not only to parents but also community members without children in school. Staff and students were also polled on site at schools to determine the most pressing needs for facility upgrades.

The data the school board received from the survey directly influenced which projects are now a top priority if the bond is passed. Priorities include the construction of the multi-purpose cafeteria at Farmersville High School and the replacement of portable buildings with permanent classrooms at Snowden and Farmersville Junior High School.

If the measure is passed, the school board will seek matching funds from the state to help fund the projects. “It could take anywhere between one to four years to complete the projects,” Wimp said. “It depends on how quickly the bonds can be sold and we can start utilizing the money.”

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