Klein ISD 2015 bond referendum
In discussing school bond proposals, there are two central issues to consider
- Matching dollars with need.
- Are the requests reasonable?
There is a degree of guesswork involved in projecting demographic trends and the costs of major construction projects, but that does not mean we shouldn’t at least ask relevant questions.
As to need: Klein ISD has engaged the firm Population and Survey Analysts (PASA) to provide enrollment forecasts. If you review the PASA web page (www.pasademographics.com) and click on the recent projects page, you will notice that the last three years have been devoted to school districts.
Klein ISD has engaged PASA for the last decade, per the PASA testimonial page. The Klein ISD bond package of 2008 (which Klein has graciously left on their website) shows enrollment projections rising linearly to a 2013 projected enrollment of 53,000 students. Actual 2013 enrollment: 49,500. Almost a 10% error.
Katy ISD is another client of PASA, and there is data out there for the 2006 Katy bond. Again, PASA forecasts a somewhat linear rise, highlighted by the following chart:
Year PASA(moderate) actual enrollment
2009 58,935 58,544
2010 62,279 60,260
2011 65,844 62,414
2012 69,906 64,249
2013 74,202 67,213
So far, PASA has two prior estimates that were considerably higher than actual results, and none below. Should PASA be considered a reliable resource? Further studies may validate their methods, but until more projections are evaluated it’s best to be skeptical.
Coming to question 2 – is the money reasonable? The board recommendation comes in a 10-page pdf that is well-structured in terms of impact and progress by district area. However, for an outsider – making the numbers tie takes a bit of time and effort. A few highlights:
- High School #5 is estimated at $120 million. Intermediate #10 is estimated at $46 million, and Elementary #33 is around $24 million. Without more specifics it’s hard to establish reasonableness, but worth noting is that in 2008 the estimated cost for High School #5 was estimated between $122 million and $150 million, depending on inflation and year built.
- Lights for three baseball fields were listed at $6.5 million
- Klein Instructional Center was originally approved on the 2004 bond referendum, pushed back to 2008, and now is on 2015.
After all this, it should be noted that Klein ISD has been unusually forthcoming and transparent in leaving prior bond information (2008 and 2004) available for review. This gives us a rare opportunity to review Klein’s past performance, and gives impetus to save current and upcoming bond proposals from all districts for future evaluation.