Approved IFA Funds

ECISD Public Information

The Texas Education Agency has notified the Edinburg Consolidated ISD that the district’s application for Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA) monies has been approved for the 2008-2009 school year, announced Rigoberto Abrego, assistant superintendent for Finance and Operations.

The approved monies will help to reduce the yearly burden on the district’s taxpayers to repay the $111,920,000 in schoolhouse bonds overwhelmingly approved by voters last May. The first payment of $7,194,569 comes due in mid-February 2009. Based on the approved IFA funding, local taxpayers will only bear 48.5 percent of the tax repayment with the state picking up 51.5 percent.

Abrego said, “Through the IFA program, the district will receive state support of $3,705,203 to make the first payment. The local taxpayers’share of the first payment will be 3,489,366.”
Abrego said that the IFA program, which was enacted by House Bill 1 of the 75th Texas Legislature, provides funding to school districts for the purchase, construction, renovation, and expansion of instructional facilities. A district uses the IFA funding to make debt service payments on qualifying bonds. To receive IFA program assistance, a district must apply for funding to the Texas Education Agency, said Abrego.

The amount of IFA program assistance for a district qualifies for is based on the size of the district, its property values, the numbers of students in average daily attendance (ADA), and the amount of eligible annual debt service, said Abrego. The district must levy and collect sufficient taxes to cover the local share of the IFA allotment to the district, he said.

Abrego said the ECISD has been assigned a “AAA” rating by Fitch Ratings for the sale of the $111,920,000 in bonds which is set for Sept. 3-Oct. 6th.  Fitch Ratings, Ltd. is an international credit rating agency dual-headquartered in New York City and London.

A Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which studied the district’s facility needs for six months, recommended a bond election to the school board.

An overwhelming show of community support to build new schools and school facilities was seen May 10th as a $111,920,000 schoolhouse bond issue was passed:

•    To build four new elementary schools
•    To build two new middle schools
•    To convert the present Harwell Middle School into a fourth middle school
•    To build of three multi-purpose fine arts centers at each of the three existing high schools
•    To make additions and renovations at Brewster School
•    To purchase land to build the new schools

The voters also voted to support the conversion of $37,675,000 of 1998 Leased Purchase Bonds to 2008 voter authorized IFA supported bonds to reduce the tax rate by $0.0020 and save taxpayers $2.1 million over 12 years.

Committee members Dr. Frank Guajardo, Bryant Morrison, and Norma Zamora Guerra, in behalf of the whole committee, recently congratulated the school board and the community on the awarding of IFA funding to help ease the burden on local taxpayers. “We want to assure the community that our committee intends to see these bond projects all the way through completion. We will be watching and working with administrative staff and the board to ensure that the construction projects are carried through and the goals are met.”

Abrego said that school taxes for senior citizens age 65 or older with approved resident homestead exemptions are frozen and seniors will not pay the additional taxes on their homestead because of the bonds unless they have made property improvements to their homes. The Hidalgo County Appraisal District, not the school district, determines property values based on property improvements, said Abrego.