Following a 5-1 vote during Monday afternoon’s regular meeting, the Lake Dallas school board made a change to the voter-approved 2019 bond.
Instead of the original $1.5 million allotted for renovations to the Lake Dallas Middle School football practice field and track, $2.5 million is now slotted toward resurfacing the high school’s baseball and softball fields.
In response to a question from school board member Glen Gowans about the significant difference in cost, Deputy Superintendent Wes Eversole said he expects there to be at least $1 million saved at some stage of the bond project — a statement Superintendent Gayle Stinson agreed was certainly feasible.
Courtney Tankersley, who gave the sole dissenting vote during Monday’s meeting, said the board is able to redirect bond money to other projects after voter confirmation because planned uses of money represent recommendations from a long-range planning committee, not decisions set in stone.
Scott Head, the district’s athletic director, said the transition to high-quality turf would save Lake Dallas ISD a lot through maintenance costs each year. Between water, pest control and mowing, Eversole estimated the two fields cost the district $125,000 to $140,000.
Eversole pointed out that even if the middle school project were to go forward, the presence of geothermal wells beneath the field would create a host of other problems and costs down the line.
Tankersley voiced several reservations about the change, saying she would need more information before she could support the move. Primarily, she said, she was worried the older middle school facilities might become an increasing safety risk the longer they go unfixed.
Sticking to the theme of safety, she wondered aloud whether the rate of injuries would increase during and after the transition to a synthetic field. Additionally, she said that taking away the promise of new facilities might negatively affect the middle school athletes’ attitudes.
“I think everyone believes the turf fields may be safer, but I just don’t feel that I’ve seen the data that supports that,” she said after Monday’s meeting.
Research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine has shown a 16% increased risk of injury to the lower extremities in the NFL, an increased rate of several injuries in NCAA football and a statistically significant increase in ankle and Achilles injuries in Major League Soccer when using synthetic fields compared to natural grass.
While knee, ankle and foot injuries are largely related to the difference in friction that a turf field represents, Tankersley said the added shock absorption can prevent other injuries. She remembered a particularly bad fall her daughter had while playing high school soccer on turf that likely would have resulted in a concussion had she not been on a turf field.
The $105 million bond was passed earlier this year with 67.6% of the vote.
But what about my tax bill?
During the same meeting, board members unanimously approved the new district tax rate in compliance with House Bill 3, the major school finance legislation signed into law at the close of the state’s 86th legislative session.
The new rate of $1.5683 per $100 property valuation is just below the previous school year’s tax rate of $1.67. According to the Denton Central Appraisal District, the average taxable home value in Lake Dallas ISD is $230,895 this year — up $18,935 from 2018.
With the lower tax rate, the homeowner will pay about $235 less to the school district than they would have with the previous year’s rate.
However, the lower tax rate combined with increasing property values means that the owner of that average-valued home would pay about $81 more to the school district this year.