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School bonds take center stage in local May 1 elections across Central Texas

More than $8 billion in bonds to be put to voters across Central Texas on Saturday
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Posted at 11:50 AM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 12:50:02-04

WACO, TX — According to bondbuyer.com, more than $8 billion of bonds will be placed before voters across the Lone Star State during Saturday's city and school elections, with school district bonds representing the largest share. The overwhelming of those bonds are represented by school districts, some of which are attempting to pass similar bond proposals they put to voters during the November 2020 presidential election, following a tumultuous May 2020 election cycle due to Covid-19.

"We really wanted to have a May bond election," Superintendent Joe Craig of Rogers ISD said. "We tried to do it last May, and we got basically told we couldn't buy the attorney general."

Craig said the the bond the put before voters during the November presidential election in 2020, failed.

"We lost by 33 votes there were 1,900 total votes. It's just a total different mindset in the presidential election," Craig explained. "We were hearing stores, so people say, well, I saw that thing where your tax is going to go up. So I just voted. And the issues weren't even associated with Rogers ISD."

For some comparison, Craig said the lost successful bond election the district had in 2014, the vote totals were 123 for and 93 against.

"That's why we came back with basically the same package, and we actually added something back in it."

This year he's trying to ensure everyone knows the proposal, which is a $6.1 million bond that will be presented to voters in four propositions.

"So proposition A is what the committee determined to be the most important needs," Superintendent Craig explains.

Proposition A will utilize $2.3 million for improvements to school facilities including buses, roofs, HVAC systems, and safety improvements. The needs we're identified by 30 or so volunteers within the community Craig said. You can view an overview of the bond by clicking this link, and view the highest priority needs listed and plan to address them.

"New roofs that were last done in 1999." Superintendent Craig said. "Their not currently leaking. But having the money there to be able to replace them when needed is really important for a small district.We've also got 15 buses in our fleet, and over half of them are 15 years or older with over 200,000 miles on them."

Proposition B ask voters to approve an issuance of $1.9 million for a new auxiliary gym. The current gym Craig says is functional, but was built in 1941, and has presented some safety challenges.

"The walls are only about two feet from the in lines, so trying to run full speed and then putting the brakes on pretty quick before you run into a brick wall.It makes it a little challenging and dangerous."

Proposition C ask for the issuance of a $1.5 million for a new early childhood educational facility.

"A pre-k for three year old which is allowed by the state we just don't have the space to do it."

And Proposition D ask for a $100,000 for a softball locker room facility.

The per year tax increase based on $100,000 taxable value? Craig says $28. However he stresses due to Texas law, the district is required to put the worse cases scenario figures to voters.

"It's $28 and even that is somewhat misleading because that's based on if all the all the propositions pass. And if we sell all the bonds at the same time," Craig said. "We've told people from the beginning that the roofs, as an example, we're not going to replace all eight roofs at one time. They're not leaking right now. That would be foolish to to do so. So that's a group of bonds that we're not going to sell immediately."

A Bond FAQ page listed on the Rogers ISD value, further details the tax increase, as well as other important issues related to the bond.

"Between now and Saturday if someone wants to see the facilities," Superintendent Craig explains. "If they want that to be a part of them making decision, come by and see me and we'll give them a tour."

Rogers ISD is hosting a community forum in person and streaming on their YouTube channel at 6 p.m. There, attendees can learn information related to the bond and ask questions, you can also submit a question regarding to the Rogers ISD bond at this link. On the May 1 ballot, voters in the Rogers Independent School District will also vote on two Board seats. Find the candidates and sample ballot here. On May 1, communities across Central Texas have the option to vote on a series of issues related to their school district and city and county governments, depending on where you live. Visit your local school district or city or county government website for what's on your ballot and where to vote.