What is a bond?
A bond is an agreement (between the school district and investors) that in exchange for money today, the school district will pay bondholders interest over the term of the bond and the principal once the bond matures. Texas school districts issue bonds to pay for major capital expenditures like new schools, expansions, or building renovations. School districts repay the bonds through revenue generated from interest and sinking property taxes (I&S). School district bonds are similar to a home mortgage in that the borrower repays the lender—in this case, investors—over time and in accordance with the terms of the bond sale.
The sale of bonds begins with an election to authorize a specific amount—the maximum the school district is allowed to sell without another election. Under state law, school districts must ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors to raise the dollars required for capital projects. When a bond is approved in an election, voters are giving permission for the school district to take out a loan and pay that loan back over an extended period. A school district Board of Trustees must order a bond election.
How can bond funds be used by the school district?
Under Texas law, proceeds from bond sales may only be used for items with a useful life of more than one year. Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure, equipment for new or existing buildings, and costs associated with managing the construction process. Bonds cannot be used for teacher salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel and insurance.
Why doesn’t New Caney ISD pay for things like the construction of new schools or facility expansions from its operating budget instead of borrowing money for capital items?
Under state law, the Texas school finance system is set up to provide operating funds each year based on the number of students enrolled. Operating funds primarily pay for teacher and employee salaries, utility costs, instructional materials, and other operational materials. The Texas school finance system, under which the state sets the operating portion of New Caney ISD’s property tax rate, does not allocate additional operating funds to school districts with the expectation or intention that school districts be able to regularly use funds for capital items like construction. Instead, Texas law provides the bond issuance mechanism for school districts to address ongoing capital needs, if approved by voters in the community. Under state law, the funds generated from the debt service portion of a school district’s tax rate may only be used to repay (or service) bonds that have been issued. School districts may not use funds generated from the debt service portion of the tax rate for any other purpose.
What is the difference between bond authorization and bond sales?
A bond authorization specifies the maximum amount of bonds the school district is authorized by the voters to sell over time. Bond sales may occur over a period of time with the date and amount of each sale determined by the Board of Trustees on an as-needed basis until the maximum authorization is met.
If the bond election is successful, does the school district immediately incur the debt?
The bonds do not cost the school district anything until they are sold. Even though the voters approve the bond issue, there are no costs incurred until the bonds are sold.
If the bonds are approved, is the school district obligated to spend the money?
No. Voter approval is an authorization for the school district to issue bonds. They will be sold in the future only when funds are needed.
Does New Caney ISD pay for shorter-life capital items with long-term bonds?
New Caney ISD attempts to match the life of assets purchased with the length of the liability incurred to pay for them. The school district structures bond issuances with this goal in mind so that items are not being paid for beyond the period of use in the district.
Will the school district be able to sell its bonds at a favorable rate?
Yes. New Caney ISD has conservatively budgeted for the interest cost on the bonds being presented to the voters and expects when the bonds are sold to be below budget. New Caney ISD has high bond ratings and credit quality and has ample interest from market investors. Current interest rate levels are below historic averages. Moreover, New Caney ISD has frequently refinanced existing bonds to lower the interest rate and provide interest cost savings.
How do experts rate New Caney ISD’s financial position?
New Caney ISD holds the following financial ratings:
- A=Superior from School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST)
- Aa3 Underlying Credit Rating from Moody’s Investors Service
- AA- Underlying Credit Rating Assigned by Fitch Ratings
- Aaa / AAA bond rating based on the Permanent School Fund Guarantee for outstanding bonds. (Note: The availability of the Permanent School Fund Guarantee for future bonds is to be determined but is not necessary to access the capital markets at reasonable interest rates given the good bond ratings and credit quality of New Caney ISD.)
Does New Caney ISD seek to save on interest costs related to the repayment of bond debt?
NCISD takes advantage of opportunities to refinance debt at lower interest rates when possible in a process known as refunding. The district continually monitors market conditions and pursues debt refunding to save interest costs and be able to pay off bonds more quickly. Since 2013, NCISD has saved more than $34 million through refunding debt.
How was the bond proposal developed?
A bond proposal was presented to the Board of Trustees in February by a bond steering committee that consisted of New Caney ISD parents, teachers, staff, and community members. This group, during November, December, and January, studied the school district’s facility, equipment, and infrastructure conditions through review of recent demographic reports, enrollment projections, financial data, and previous bond programs. New Caney ISD commissioned a demographic study that was completed in 2022. Population and Survey Analysts (PASA) conducted the study and presented its findings to the Board of Trustees in April 2022. The report presents low, moderate, and high growth scenarios. The moderate scenario projects nearly 4% annual enrollment growth over the next 10 years or an average growth of 790 students each year during that time. The report predicts district enrollment to grow from 18,300 in 2023 to approximately 25,000 students by 2031 with moderate growth.
Who determines the final projects to ultimately be included in the bond election?
The New Caney ISD Board of Trustees determines the timing, structure and content of any potential bond issue. The Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Feb. 7, to call for a bond election for May 6, 2023 regarding the current $695 million bond package.
Would a new bond program address improvements to older schools in the district?
Comparability of schools and facilities is an important topic of discussion as it relates to prioritizing bond funds for our district. The proposal does include funds for updates to life cycle items for all campuses.
What projects are being proposed?
The proposed projects include three areas: new school construction, facility improvements, and land acquisition. Below is an itemized scope of projects. For more information regarding each project, see the project list located on the bond webpage (newcaneyisd.org/bond23)
- West Fork High School Construction - Phase 2
- Elementary School #12 (located in the Highlands subdivision)
- New Caney Elementary School Replacement
- New Caney High School Career & Technical Education Facility
- Middle School #5
- Middle School #6
- Administration Building
- Transportation Addition
- Porter High School CTE & Fine Arts Improvements
- Operations Building
- Alternative Campus & Credit Recovery Relocation
- Elementary School #13
- Clear Touch Classroom Technology
- School Playground Accessibility
- Land Acquisition
- Life Cycle Items at Various Campuses (see bond webpage for list)
- District Agricultural Science Center Expansion
- New Caney High School Extracurricular Improvements
- Porter High School Extracurricular Improvements
- West Fork High School Extracurricular Improvements
What is the total proposed amount for which the Board of Trustees is seeking approval?
The bond proposal asks voters to consider two separate ballot items. The ballot items and estimated costs are as follows:
Proposition A: $634,000,000
Proposition B: $61,000,000
How are cost estimates calculated?
The estimated costs are determined in the bond planning process based on current product availability, supply chains, labor and material costs that have a direct impact on construction. These current market variables in addition to projected future costs are then put into a construction-cost-model to evaluate the anticipated construction costs. The true cost for each construction project cannot be determined until the district completes the bidding process in accordance with Texas Education Agency standards as well as Texas law. New Caney ISD utilizes several different delivery methods of construction (Construction Manager, Construction Manager at Risk, Competitive Sealed Proposals) to ensure the best delivery method is applied to the right project to yield cost savings to the district and ultimately the taxpayer.
How is the school district’s tax rate configured?
Local school property taxes are collected and go into two different funds: maintenance and operations (M&O) and interest and sinking (I&S). The M&O side pays for everyday operations like salaries for teachers and support staff, instructional resources, facility repairs, utilities, and fuel for buses. The I&S side pays for debt incurred, as approved by voters in a bond election, for major capital improvements like building new schools, renovating or adding on to existing buildings, or purchasing land.
New Caney ISD’s 2022-23 maximum compressed tax rate for maintenance and operations is set at $.9430 per $100 of property value while the I&S rate is set at $.50 per $100 of property value, for an effective total tax rate of $1.443 per $100 of property value. Under current law for determining property tax rates, school districts are limited to 2.5 percent growth in values from the prior year. Value growth above that is factored in to compress, or reduce, a school district’s M&O tax rate. New Caney ISD’s M&O tax rate has decreased each of the last four years, reducing the school district’s overall tax rate from $1.67 per $100 in property value in 2018 to the current $1.443 per $100 in property value. And the school district’s I&S tax rate is at the legal limit and cannot be increased.
If voters approve Bond 2023, will there be a school tax rate increase?
There will be no I&S tax rate increase if the voters approve Bond 2023. The debt service tax rate is at its legal limit and will remain at $0.50/per $100 of taxable value. The M&O tax rate will not be impacted by Bond 2023.
Why does the ballot language say this is a property tax increase?
Although approval of Bond 2023 will not increase New Caney ISD’S tax rate, state law requires that the statement “THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE” must appear as part of all public school district bond propositions pursuant to Section 45.003 (Texas Education Code) regardless of whether passage of the proposition would result in a tax rate increase, a tax rate decrease, or not impact the tax rate at all. Passage of Bond 2023 would not impact New Caney ISD’s tax rate.
The issuance of new bonds represents a new obligation for voters to consider – essentially providing permission for New Caney ISD to continue to levy the interest & sinking (I&S) tax rate in order to repay the new bonds. School districts repay bonds through revenue generated from the I&S portion of the property tax structure. The school district’s I&S tax rate is $.50 per $100 of property value. This rate is the legal limit and cannot be increased.
Can the actual amount of property taxes that a property owner has to pay go up or down in a given year even if the tax rate stays the same?
Yes, in any year, if the taxable appraised value of a property increases or decreases from the previous year, then the actual amount of taxes due on a property would increase or decrease that year, even if the tax rate stays the same. The taxable appraised value of a property is NOT related to or impacted by a bond proposition or the property tax rate. Under Texas law, the amount of property taxes due each year is based on two primary factors – the property tax rate and the taxable appraised value. The property tax rate is set by a taxing entity, such as New Caney ISD. The appraised value is determined by a separate entity called an appraisal district. In New Caney ISD’s area, it’s the Montgomery Central Appraisal District. The taxable appraised value is the appraised value of a property after any eligible exemptions are applied to the property. Bond 2023 would not increase New Caney ISD’s debt service tax rate (I&S tax rate), so without a change in property tax rate, the primary factor that could change how much tax is due on a property compared to a previous year is whether the taxable appraised value changes.
Are school district property taxes frozen for New Caney ISD residents over age 65?
Yes, there is a school district property tax ceiling that limits school taxes to the amount residents paid in the year they qualify for the Age 65 or Older Exemption. A property owner qualifies for the Age 65 or Older Exemption effective January 1 of any year in which they turn 65. From that point forward, the school district tax levy on their property cannot exceed the frozen levy amount, even if the home value rises or the tax rate increases. Property Tax Exemptions (State Comptroller)
What is New Caney ISD's student enrollment over the last five years?
As of November 7, 2022, New Caney ISD’S student enrollment is 18,355.
- 2021-22: 17,116
- 2020-21: 16,274
- 2019-20: 16,110
- 2018-19: 15,381
Student Enrollment 2004-2022 (NCISD Enrollment Data)
Projected Enrollment 2022-2031 (Population & Survey Analysts Demographic Study 2022)
Where can I find the latest demographic study?
The latest demographic study for New Caney ISD was completed in April 2022. Population and Survey Analysts conducted the study and reported its findings to the Board of Trustees at the Board’s April 2022 regular meeting. The study can be accessed here.
When was New Caney ISD’s last bond election?
New Caney ISD’s last bond election was held in May 2018. Voters approved a $200 million bond package. Capital projects funded through the 2018 bond include the construction of West Fork High School Phase 1, the replacement of Keefer Crossing Middle School, expansion of Woodridge Forest Middle School, and the replacement of Porter Elementary School. The only outstanding project is the replacement of Porter Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Learn more about projects from Bond 2018.
Why is the election divided into two measures/propositions?
A measure is a legal question presented to the voters. A proposition is the summary of the measure that appears on the ballot. For each measure, there is one ballot proposition. State law allows one measure/proposition for the construction, acquisition, and equipment of school buildings in the school district; the purchase of the necessary sites for school buildings; and the purchase of new school buses. State law requires a separate measure/proposition for six specific types of projects: stadium with seating greater than 1,000, natatorium, recreational facility “other than a gym, playground, or play area”, performing arts facility, teacher housing, or technology other than “school security” or “integral to the construction”
When is Election Day?
Election Day is May 6, 2023. Registered voters can vote early in person between April 24 and May 2. The voter registration deadline is April 6, 2023.
How do I register to vote?
Find voter registration information here.