AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In the May 2023 election, the Highland Park Independent School District is asking the public to consider two bond proposals, totaling $130 million, one of which would expand the district’s reach and the other of which would update the district’s technology.

According to information from the district, proposition one is $129 million, centering around the addition of a Career and Technology Center and early Elementary School Campus on some of the district’s property north of the Amazon Fulfillment Center. Other portions of this proposition include:

  • Softball and Baseball Fields (south of the football field);
  • School Park/Soccer Field;
  • Roadways, Utilities, and Infrastructure for new constriction;
  • School Safety Measures at existing and new buildings;
  • Transportation – buses, fleet vehicles.

Proposition two is a $1 million bond centered around technology improvements in the district, including new student and staff devices like Chromebooks, laptops, interactive televisions, and other technology in the future.

Because the state mandates the tax rate set for maintenance and operations for Texas School Districts, the tax impact would only impact the interest and sinking portion of the tax rate. If both propositions pass, the district would see a $0.21 increase in its interest and sinking rate, raising the total tax rate to $1.1966.

This increased tax rate would result in an increase of $10.50 per month, and a $125.94 annual increase, on a $100,000 home, according to data provided by the district.

100% of all bond funds or Interest & Sinking (I&S) dollars stay in the HPISD and are not subject to recapture.

Recapture, local dollars HPISD is not allowed to keep for the 2022-2023 school year is estimated to be $4.7 million. According to Highland Park ISD, projected growth to business, commercial and industrial property over the next five years will cause recapture to approach $10 million.

An increase in enrollment for HPISD allows the school district to retain more local tax dollars and avoid recapture, according to the district.

Highland Park ISD Superintendent Jimmy Hannon said in recent years the district has seen its enrollment numbers drop significantly.

“Since 2020, in the last three years, we’ve lost about 130 to 240 kids… so we’re just trying to figure out ways to sustain growth and continue to have a steady enrollment,” said Hannon.

This proposed bond comes after the district’s board recently approved a recommendation from Highland Park ISD Superintendent Jimmy Hannon that would result in a reduction of force, consolidating the administration department at the elementary school and eliminating the theatre arts program at both the middle school and high school.

Hannon addressed the timing of the bond and reducing force within the district.

“Yes, there has been a little bit of backlash as a result of that. And, again, you can look at that in timing is terrible. And you see that from neighboring districts that have had to go through similar things, a variety of different political things happen. And a lot of that’s out of your control,” said Hannon.

Officials said at the time that this decision was made because of a significant decrease in enrollment, prompting the district to operate in a budget deficit. Hannon said that enrollment has decreased from 917 students in 2020 to around 780 students in 2023.

Hannon said that staffing cannot be paid from interest and sinking funds, only from the maintenance and operations side of the tax rate. The projects proposed in the bond can be paid from the interest and sinking portion, a different “pot of money” from the maintenance and operations side.

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