Waco ISD Board of Trustees discuss long-term planning

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WACO, Texas – The Waco Independent School District is in the initial steps of proposing their $376 million facilities plan to the local taxpayers.

The plan includes a new Waco High School, as well as combining five elementary and middle schools into three new campuses.

“Certainly the costs of the projects is significant. Enough that in order to pay for them, the district would have to issue bonds to fund the construction of the new schools,” Waco ISD Chief of Staff Kyle DeBeer said. “To issue bonds, the district would need approval from voters to do that.”

The last time the district tried to combine schools like this plan calls for, it got blowback from the community. This time around, the district took those concerns into account.

“That was a topic the Community Advisory Committee wrestled with, quite frankly,” DeBeer said. “The conclusion that committee came to was that there were some opportunities to better serve students with some larger campuses.”

The plans would also add roughly $150 annually to property taxes for the average Waco ISD home. Senior citizens living in the zone are looking to capitalize on a tax freeze if the deal goes through.

“You can have your property tax rates frozen to where they were at when you turned 65,” DeBeer said. “So if rates go down over time, your school district rate will decrease. But if they go up higher than where they were when you turned 65, you won’t see that increase as an older property owner.”

Even with the price tag, the district believes the community is on board so far.

“I’ve been really struck by the positive tone the committee’s recommendations have been received with,” DeBeer said.

If the plan goes through, the district says it will take roughly six years to complete.

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