Bond & Build: Case for school bond

The Build & Bond potlical action committee had several promotional posters set up on tables at Midwestern State's Sikes Lake Center Tuesday during its informational meeting to encourage the public to vote yes May 10 for the proposed $125 million school bond.

Photo by Orlando Flores Jr., Times Record News // Buy this photo

The Build & Bond potlical action committee had several promotional posters set up on tables at Midwestern State's Sikes Lake Center Tuesday during its informational meeting to encourage the public to vote yes May 10 for the proposed $125 million school bond.

We would like to thank the Times Record News (TRN) for giving Bond & Build 2014 (FOR the bond) this editorial space. Bond & Build 2014 was very excited when KFDX and TRN created a televised and web-streamed forum between FOR and AGAINST groups. This forum had to be canceled because the AGAINST group (Community for a Better Bond) declined to participate.

WFISD school district administration can only “educate and inform” about a school bond. They cannot “advocate” for a school bond’s passage. Bond & Build 2014 (PAC) is the advocate FOR this bond’s passage.

Bond & Build 2014 has been in more than 70 homes, clubs, Chamber of Commerce, Young Professional, Hispanic Education Coalition events. A list of most common questions has been compiled and we present these questions with Bond & Build 2014’s answers:

Q: How will the $125 million be spent?

A: $4M on safety and security updates at ALL schools: $12 million Jr High renovation; $24.2 million on a vocational (career technology center); $64 million on a new 1,900 student high school located at Memorial Complex (Old High will not be torn down — it will be repurposed); $2.3 million McNiel converted to a ninth grade center; $10 million Hirschi renovations/improvements; $8.5 million at Memorial Complex on ADA requirements, needed repairs, and updates (complex used 3,000/yr.).

Q: What is the timing of projects’ completion?

A: Planning and design 2014; construction starts 2015; all construction completed by EOY 2017

Q: Don’t you think water is more important than schools right now?

A: Wichita Falls has been here before! Between 1961 and 1965, courageous voters approved WFISD’s building three high schools while the City built Lake Arrowhead. Voting “No” on the bond will not add one drop of water to our lakes. Voting YES will tell prospects looking at our community as their new site that this is a community that is bold, embraces challenges, and is progressive!

Q: Will WFISD teachers and staff lose their jobs when Rider and Old High merge?

A: No attrition over a 2 to 3 year period will offset any reduction of staff required as WFISD moves from a 3 to 2 high school system.

Q: What are the plans for Hirschi?

A: A new exterior; building and technology renovations; athletic field site improvements, including synthetic turf practice field and bleachers. Hirschi will play football and soccer at the Memorial Complex. The IB program that focuses on STEM will continue to be a magnet for District students.

Q: Why locate the new high school at Memorial Complex?

A: There are 156 acres at the Memorial Complex which is wholly owned by WFISD. Converting McNiel to a 9th Grade Center puts the high school and ninth grade center in the same complex. This site is located adjacent and in close proximity to major and minor arterials (City Thoroughfare Plan) that are designed to provide for high traffic volumes.

Q: Why build the Career Technology Center (CTE) at Old High?

A: The CTE design will be for 500 attendance in the morning and 500 in the afternoon. Students leave their home high school, travel to CTE for vocational training, then return to their high school for rest of classes. WFHS site is centrally located.

Q: What happens to my taxes?

A: If you are 65 or older, your school property tax bill is frozen. For other homeowners, the school tax increase would be approximately $10 per month or $120 a year on a $100,000 home. Renters do not pay property taxes so they are not affected.

Q: Why do this now? Can’t we wait?

A: Voting YES enables us — our community — to take advantage of the laddered debt roll off so the first $45M of this $125M causes no increase in school tax.

The bonds approved in the past 30 years have been primarily for elementary students. We are training future leaders in our junior highs and high schools. Building design and technology teamed with WFISD premiere teachers, staff, and state of the art programming is paramount! Carpenters don’t build great houses with cracked boards, crooked nails, and broken hammers. Let’s give our teachers and staff the tools needed for “extraordinary” academic results!

Kerri Maroney and Teresa Caves are co-chairs of Bond & Build. The views expressed above are not necessarily that of the Times Record News. The contents have not been modified except for grammar and punctuation.

© 2014 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 8

Padraig writes:

While the 65 year old has their taxes "frozen" for school taxes...once again this year the appraisal has gone up for folks from the city and county... Also, I have always felt that, "renters" should not vote since, as you say, "they are not affected. I have already voted...NO!

Wishful writes:

Memorial Complex is used 3,000/yr??? That is 8.2 events each and everyday of the week. Surely WFISD isn't counting Wichita Falls Little League, Junior League Field of Dreams, Sunrise Optimist Softball Fields (non WFISD games) and the Greater Wichita Falls Soccer Association in those numbers?
Yes WFISD owns the land but do they take care of any ADA, take care of the fields or pay any utilities at any of these above mentioned privately funded organizations? 3,000 events a year, really?

farbarker writes:

Padraig is an idiot...I assure you that renters pay property taxes each time their rent is raised to offset any increase in property tax. Chances are we pay more since landlords usually charge more for rent than what they're having to pay monthly on a property in house payments, insurance and yes....property taxes!!

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

How much to bring RHYS up to being a proper junior high?
Since when have new school buildings brought in new "community prospects"? It didn't happen in the 60's with HIS and RHYS.
The land on Hatton Rd. Is in close proximity to "arterial" of greater magnitude and with more diverse travelers, not just those heading to Holliday or Seymour.
Every person who does any business in this town will be contributing to any and all tax increases no matter their age or where they live.
Past bonds for elementary schools are seeing their fruition in the consolidation of two schools we just spent bond monies on. That monies will be wasted as those structures lay fallow.

Padraig writes:

in response to farbarker:

Padraig is an idiot...I assure you that renters pay property taxes each time their rent is raised to offset any increase in property tax. Chances are we pay more since landlords usually charge more for rent than what they're having to pay monthly on a property in house payments, insurance and yes....property taxes!!

Total proposed bill for 2014 is..$5,084.00 of which $2,428.00 is for the WFISD...even with the age 65 "freeze". The remainder is split between the city and county and the appraised value has gone up once again.

Hangman writes:

This bond is still too vague to get my vote. What is Old High going to be repurposed to? I've heard the admin. is going to move to the building. How much of the bond money would be needed just to fix up an building that's been deemed to be unsuitable for educating students? Is the disctict still considering envoking eminent domain on the surronding neighborhood to make room for the Career Center? Until these questions are answered, I will vote a resonding NO to this bond.

Wichita_Willie writes:

Well folks, I received my Wichita County Tax Appraisal today and guess what? They say that my home's market value has jumped another $2,500 again this year. This is approximately the same amount my property value jumps every two years years.

It states "improvements" made, but I have not made any improvements to my home in decades. At the same time I was forced to have nine trees removed last year because of the drought and because I am not allowed to water them. Another four are about to give up the ghost this year.

Right now there are five homes within a half block of my house that are for sale. Most started out at about $135,000. Then all dropped to $100,000. Right now one has already dropped to $68,000 and its still for sale.

The Appraisal District says that they come up with MY home's value based on sales in my neighborhood. However, there are no sales, just homes that have been sitting vacant for months and are still for sale in spite of dropping prices by almost a third.

I hope that everyone sees where this is going. Even if the bond fails the city, county and WFISD will still be getting a lot more from me. Then add the burden of the proposed bond and it's almost unbearable.

We have a bond that has been paid off this year that finally rolls off the books in August. I don't know about the rest of you but I need this roll off to go into effect just to help balance out the fact that the tax appraisal district is jumping up my valuation anyway.

So in my case, I won't see any lower taxes from the current bond's roll off. The Appraisal District has already taken care of that.

This is how they mislead old folks. They say that older citizens have their taxes freezed but the truth is that they still go up year after year because all they have to do to get around this is to raise your valuation.

I say VOTE NO. I sure can't afford it if its passes.

WFFL writes:

Losing teachers through attrition still means that there are less teachers per student. When you don't replace an employee, then those who are left are simply asked to do more. Rather than "tools", I would prefer actual people. No amount of turf is going to replace a dedicated teacher or para. It isn't like we are going to have less students when we consolidate.

Also, I am sorry, but I don't give a rat's behind about a new schools ability to entice businesses to Wichita Falls. I am sick of people proudly describing this bond as a way we can use our kids as bait to lure money into our town.

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