DICKINSON — The Dickinson school district is proposing to build a new education village featuring an elementary and middle school to house its booming student population.

To fund it, voters will be asked in May to approve a $56 million bond proposal.

If approved, the added bond debt would increase the district’s tax rate by about 3 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The school district covers 61 square miles and is the fastest growing school district in the county. The district has about 10,000 students enrolled in the 2013-14 school year, according to data from Texas Education Agency.

Ten years ago 6,515 students were enrolled in the district. In a decade, the district has grown by 65 percent.

By comparison, statewide enrollment grew by 19 percent from the 2002-03 school year to the 2012-13 school year, according to a recent state report.

It takes a village

The district is contemplating building a “mini-education village,” said district spokeswoman Tammy Dowdy.

The site would house an approximately 105,000 square foot elementary school and and approximately 115,000 square foot middle school.

Having both schools on the same site would allow for shared resources and space — such as a cafeteria, a library and some office areas — and could save the district about $1 million in costs, Dowdy said.

The district is tentatively planning to build the schools on the west side of the district, on FM 517 between Calder Road and Cemetery Road, Dowdy said. That plan would have to be approved by the school board — if voters approve the bond issue.

The district has owned about 40 acres at the Louis G. Lobit school site since the 1970s, when it was donated by the Lobit family, she said.  

Growing neighborhoods

Many of the fastest-growing neighborhoods are in the west side of the district.

The Bay Colony subdivisions around Calder Road are growing and adding homes. The Lago Mar subdivision near Tanger Outlets, 5884 Interstate 45 in Texas City, is expected to add about 250 to 400 new homes by 2016, Dowdy said.

“What people don’t realize about Dickinson ISD is that we are more than (the city of) Dickinson,” she said. “Dickinson is only a very small part of Dickinson ISD.”

Adding to the debt

Because of continued growth, the district has had to keep building. To pay for the construction, the district has had to take on debt.

At the end of the last fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, the district had $223 million in debt, Dowdy said.

“The majority of this comes from the district’s last two bond issues,” she said.

Voters approved a $107.5 million bond package in 2007, which funded renovations and upgrades at several facilities. In 2005, voters approved two propositions totaling $85 million. The majority was used on new schools, upgrades to facilities and an agricultural center. About $13 million funded a new stadium.

Voters also approved a $47.4 million bond issue in 1999 that funded two new elementary schools, a middle school and additions and renovations to existing buildings.

The bond proposal on the May ballot is driven by increasing enrollment, Dowdy said.

Since the last bond issue in 2007, the district has added about 2,255 students, according to state data.

“If more students are enrolling, we have  to a find a way to have the space to accommodate them,” Dowdy said. “This is a dilemma every fast-growing school district faces.”

Paying it back

If approved, the district’s tax rate would increase by about 3 cents, from $1.54 per $100 of assessed property value to $1.57. The debt would be paid off in 30 years.

In the 2012-13 school year, the district paid about $16.1 million toward its debt, Dowdy said.

The state limits how much a district can borrow. The Dickinson school district is near that limit, but as debt is paid off each year and the district’s tax base expands, the district gains capacity to take on debt.

“We are confident that our tax base is more than adequate to meet the financial obligations of the bonds,” Dowdy said.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

(10) comments

Gary Miller

Success begats success.
My only objection is using tax money for the most expencive school system and school buildings.
Charter school management in pre engineered steel buildings could cut costs by more than half.
Dickinson voters should reject this bond and require the district to rethink. Offering the best choice instead of the worst choice.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

It's fantastic news that DISD and surrounding school districts are having to look at expanding their campuses because of their increase in student enrollment and their community development!

Unfortunately, I'm sure some degree of their growth is a direct result of students being forced out of La Marque ISD because of their current poor quality of education, substandard finances, as well as, security problems that they offer to their students?

Hopefully after this school year our school tax dollars will go towards helping others to build all of these new schools that can also provide our students with the quality of education that they are entitled to instead of their emphasis being placed on making sure that everyone keeps getting their paychecks in order to further pad their retirement plan. [sad]

Good job DISD and the city of Dickinson![thumbup]

George Croix

Dickinson's population is only about a third higher than LaMarque's as of the last census, but was once upon a time quite a bit lower.
LaMarque has shrunk to about what it was 40 years ago, and Dickinson has increased.
Oh, what a difference a school system makes, and the people running it.
Look even further north for even bigger examples.
Dickinsnon voters, you have an opportunity to dig deep and make a financial sacrifice now that will bring big rewards later for the future children of the citizens of DISD.
Investing is a good thing when it's an actual investment with payout, and not just more money tossed down the drian, as the LMISD has proven to be for too long.

Carol Dean

Before looking at expanding our educational facilities, I would like to know where we stand on our curriculum standards. If Common Corps is being used or even considered for our school system, I would be very much opposed to putting money into something that will do nothing but "dumb down" the standards of education for our students.

Carlos Ponce

Dickinson's curriculum may be found at
http://www.dickinsonisd.org/default.aspx?name=curric.home
Texas Governor Rick Perry signed HB 462 effectively banning the Common Core Standards from this state. House Bill 462 limits the use of the Common Core State Standards in Texas public schools. HB 462 ensures that school districts are not required to teach the Common Core and prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting the Common Core. HB 462 also prohibits the Texas Education Agency and Commissioner from adopting or developing a student or teacher assessment based on the Common Core.

JBG JBG

If the FEDS.. had their way, back in the day,....I would not know how to speak East Texas "PINEY WOODS"...rat now!!!!! If that had happened,...that would've been some repugnant &*&%!!!!

JBG JBG

On a serious note DISD seems to be a school district on the move, and growing leaps and bounds in size and quality. That is a good combination,...and I applaud that community and it's constituents for that. Who would not want to be apart of something like that? Something special is happening over there!!!

Robert Buckner

I've noticed in recent years many area ISDs except LaMarque ISD have had a need to expand their facilities due to enrollment increases. I also applaud these communities for electing leaders that are looking out for the best interest of the students and taxpayers. What is the problem with LMISD?

Carol Dean

Dan Patrick is campaigning on supporting Common Core whether, Perry signed the bill or not.

A year ago when I spoke to a Dickinson School Board member and asked him his thoughts on Common Core, he indicated to me that he had NEVER heard about it and then reassured me that he attends EVERY School Board meeting and even those outside the area.

Scairy!

Carlos Ponce

Every website I can find shows Dan Patrick is campaigning AGAINST Common Core. During the 83rd Legislative Session, Representative Dan Huberty authored HB 462 and Dan Patrick was the Senate sponsor of the legislation. The intent and effect of the bill is to prevent the adoption of national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. - See more at:
http://www.danpatrick.org/dan-patrick-clears-air-legislation-prevent-common-core/
and
http://www.danpatrick.org/education/

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