Dallas board poised to request fall bond

DALLAS — With encouraging results of a voter survey in hand, it appears as though the Dallas School District may approve a bond for repairs and renovation for the November general election.

The final decision is slated for the board’s Aug. 25 meeting, but the district will prepare a ballot title, narrow down a project list, and finalize the amount of the bond as if it will proceed in November.

Projections have the bond amount at approximately $17 million over seven years, but that too will be nailed down in the weeks to come. That would leave the school district tax rate at its current level, approximately $1.74 per $1,000 on assessed value.

A voter survey conducted July 18-22 showed strong support for a bond, particularly if used for maintaining basic systems in school buildings — roofs, heating and cooling systems, ventilation and plumbing — adding space for vocational courses, energy efficiency and safety.

If used for those types of projects, the bond scored a 79- to 74-percent approval rating among the 373 survey respondents.

However, other possible projects — such as improvements to athletic facilities — didn’t receive as much support, registering 50 percent or less approval rating. J.L. Wilson, public affair counsel with the Nelson Report, which conducted the survey, said that isn’t uncommon, adding voters typically view sports facility upgrades “as a nicety,” not essential.

Wilson, who spoke with the Dallas School Board via telephone conference Monday, said the district should be confident in the community’s support of the bond proposal, as long as the it prioritizes its projects based on the feedback.

“You have a clear path to victory here,” Wilson said. “I would say you are in pretty good shape.”

District officials agreed.

“I was really encouraged by the favorable responses on almost all of it,” said Tami Montague, the district’s business manager. “I feel much more positive about going out earlier than waiting until May.”

In other business, the board:

• Unanimously approved the charter school proposal for Dallas Community School.

The district and school will now begin work on a charter agreement, which needs to be in place by July 2015.

“Everyone is so excited,” said Wendy Sparks, board president for Community Innovation Partners, the nonprofit developing the school.

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