Denton ISD voters could see a new bond package on their ballots as early as May, according to district officials.
The Denton school board took the first steps of the bond exploration process at its Tuesday night meeting when it unanimously appointed 25 people to a citizen's advisory committee.
The group, consisting of parents, business owners and community leaders, will spend the next few months looking over district growth and facilities reports to decide if and when the district should go out for another bond package.
"I think we'll see a recommendation before spring break," Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. "It depends on what the committee decides and if they want to do an election in May or November. It also depends on how much work we need to do in between. If we're ready to do something in early spring, we will. If not, we won't. It's about when we're ready to move forward and when we need to have access to that."
According to a 10-day enrollment report, Denton ISD currently has 29,225 students on its 41 campuses. The district will enroll more than 30,000 students by this time next year based on projections from Templeton Demographics. That number will balloon to more than 37,000 in 10 years and add 8,873 more students.
It's hard sometimes to realize the impact of that growth when it's just numbers on the page. The Denton Record-Chronicle did some calculations to put in perspective what an added 8,873 kids looks like:
— The new students entering Denton ISD over the next 10 years would fill up roughly 12 elementary schools, eight middle schools or four high schools by themselves. That would double the middle schools and high schools the district currently has.
— The Texas Education Agency requires kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms to have one teacher for every 22 students unless the district files a waiver. Based on the TEA requirement, Denton ISD would need 404 new elementary school teachers to accommodate the added students if they all enrolled in elementary classes. If we're going by the district's highest enrollment ratio of 25 students for every teacher (used to staff fifth-grade classrooms), Denton ISD would need 355 more elementary teachers.
— To pay all those teachers, it would cost the district at least an additional $21 million for the 404 new teachers or $18.4 million for the 355 new teachers. Those calculations are based on the 2017-2018 new hire schedule, which pays first-year teachers with a bachelor's degree $52,000 per year. If the district hired teachers with more experience or higher education, those figures would rise.
The district's last bond package passed in 2013, with 68 percent of voters approving the $312 million measure. That package still has money allocated for a 24th elementary school, which will most likely be somewhere in the Braswell High School zone along the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor.
If the advisory committee recommends another bond package, district officials will ask the panel to build the package within the current parameters of the interest and sinking tax rate. That tax rate is only used to pay off bond debts and was lowered by the school board to 48 cents in June to offset a 2-cent increase to the maintenance and operations tax rate that was approved by voters earlier this month.
"There's an expectation in our community that we don't do anything to increase the tax rate," Wilson said. "I don't want to come back a year after the election and ask for those 2 cents back."
CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.