Bond will help BISD keep up with growth
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 by David Tuma
With any bond issue there are always two sides. Is it needed and who is willing to pay for it and who isn't. With all that is being said about tax this and tax that and who is going to pay the $14 trillion that hasn't been paid, the bottom line is this. The Belton School District is growing at 350 students a year and has increased by 38 percent in the past ten years.
There may be cheaper or better ways to do this or do that but in the end what residents are looking at is 15 classrooms a year either in new buildings or temporary housing at $60,000 per class.
Over the past few decades of growth BISD has kept the numbers pretty accurate. They have managed the department load for residences. From Buda-Hays Consolidated to Midway High School, looking at the fast pace school districts in the greater Austin area Belton residencts have the least debt load per student that any district. BISD's debt per student stands at $9,294.
The $60 million package is large compared to Belton's one school at a time policy of the past. The reason the Long Range Planning committee chose a larger bond package was bond interest rates are the lowest on record and construction costs because of the recent recession are low.
The plan presented is a 10-year plan and should meet the construction needs of the district. It includes an elementary school in Temple and another one in Belton. A middle school will be built in Temple and the current Belton Middle School campus will become part of Belton High School. Belton High School is over capacity this year.
The key point for some residents is, taxes. Cost estimates for the bond package is 11.7 cents per $100 valuation with the cost of a $100,000 home at $117 more per year.
"I am against the bond issue. The district is way over in terms of spending our money! They draw up different plans for each new school and that costs more money, why can't we build schools like Lakewood, Tarver, Pirtle, Sparta Elementary pick one and use the same floor plans? Who says that schools can't look the same. When they say the bond issue is for the kids, it is a cop out!
"And one last thing, shame on our senior citizens who vote for this bond issue that will raise my taxes when they don't have to participate and pay for the tax increase also," said Belton business owner Corbett Finney.
"We live in a healthy growing area of Texas, not only economic growth but population as well. The student population of the BISD has grown by 38 percent in the last 10 years and that trend will likely continue. When you see a school district that is not growing you will find an area that is suffering economically. None of us want to pay more taxes but we can't allow our children's education to suffer. We all want better home values. Without a quality and growing school district those values will fall.
As residents of the BISD we have an obligation to educate the children in our district. Someone paid for the schools we attended and in many cases it was just as difficult then as it is today. I would ask, "what are we suppose to do with the several thousand children that are now in our district or will be in the near future. We can not turn them away. Are we going to provide a quality education for them. If we don't we will all suffer. A good education allows for a better quality of life, one with less crime, welfare and dependence on others.
"The district has done a fantastic job of managing our districts needs in the past. Current interest rates and construction cost couldn't be more in our favor. Putting this off will only cost tax payers more in the long run. Go visit a school, get involved with the district and you will see the quality education the district is providing and the need to pass this bond election," said Belton business owner Danny Dossman. "Even the people who oppose the bond issue have 'for now' on there signs. We just won't have this kind of savings again in terms of construction cost."
Early voting begins April 30-May 8t with the election day set for May 12. Early voting is at the BISD Administration building, Pirtle Elementary and Belton High School.