Bryan school district’s board, staff and volunteers must be magicians. Not only did they create a $12 million bond issue in 2019 that did not raise school taxes, this year they are calling for a second bond issue totaling $175 million — and again, it will not raise school taxes.
That isn’t easy to do in a growing district such as Bryan, where needs often outstrip the ability to pay for them.
Last year, 86 percent of the voters approved the $12 million bond package that was used to take care of career-tech needs, transportation, safety and security issues and immediate roofing and maintenance needs. School officials were up front with the voters, letting us know the 2019 bond was the first — and smaller — of two bonds needed to address pressing needs in the district.
This year’s $175 million bond will pay for construction of a third intermediate school, a new transportation maintenance facility, badly needed classrooms at Rudder High School and a variety of safety and maintenance needs at all the schools in the Bryan district. None of these are “wish-list items.” Every item in the package is absolutely necessary.
Voters supported last year’s bond overwhelmingly and they should support this year’s larger bond package by similar or larger margins.
Absent a significant increase in the assessed value of your property, your taxes will not go up. It is important for everyone to understand this.
In 2019, our state legislators decided that every school bond election anywhere in Texas must include the statement: “This is a property tax increase.”
Most of the time, that probably is the case, but not so here in Bryan. Through a combination of retiring previous bond debt and increasing property values, the Bryan district is able to keep taxes at their present level, despite what our lawmakers say, so ignore the required statement.
Bryan school trustees hired a firm to assess the needs at every school in the district and appointed a 60-member committee of staff, faculty, parents and even a student to develop the bond package approved by trustees.
The biggest items on the ballot is the new intermediate school for grades five and six. At present, the district has two intermediate schools: Jane Long, with about 1,175 students, and Sam Rayburn, with some 1,250 students. Adding the third intermediate school would allow student populations to stabilize at about 800 students per school.
Plans call for the new intermediate school to be built on the location of the current inadequate “bus barn” adjacent to Bonham Elementary School. At the same time, the district is looking for a new location for a modern transportation facility.
The bond package also includes the addition of 14 badly needed classrooms at Rudder High School to replace the “temporary” portable buildings. And, the annex at Stephen F. Austin Middle School — a vestige of the old SFA High School — will be renovated with 10 new classrooms.
The remainder of the bond money goes to upgrades and improvements at every district campus, including playground shade structures at every elementary school; new roofs and roof repairs at several schools; HVAC upgrades at several schools; safety fencing, new public address systems, new fire suppressant systems and Americans with Disabilities Act installation, upgrades and repair. All of them will make our children safer and more comfortable at school every day.
We are a community that values education highly, as we should. It is one of the main reasons families want to move here.
Certainly we want the best for our children and, while this is a no-frills bond issue, it does ensure the best facilities possible for them.
Schools matter. Our children matter. This bond issue matters.
The Eagle recommends a vote in favor of the $175 million Bryan school bond issue.
And, remember: It will not raise your school property tax.
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