Two Sides Develop In Preparation For Bellville ISD Bond Election

Two Sides Develop In Preparation For Bellville ISD Bond Election

The Bellville ISD is asking constituents to consider voting to approve a $112.4 million bond in the upcoming November election.  The bond is primarily broken into two major spending parts:

  • $104.6M:  The construction of a new high school which includes spaces for all programs, including industry-based programs, ag, athletics & collaborative learning.

And,

  • $7.8M:  The construction of a sports complex at the new high school site designed for baseball, softball, and tennis with restrooms and concessions.

This is information is derived from their FACT SHEET (which goes into much greater detail) and is available on the district’s website.  They also created a pitch video to quickly cover the highlights of the bond:

This sum of money has caused the community to divide into two groups.  ACNO was approached to publish the information that was placed in the Bellville Times for one side but, we waited until we had everything from both sides “for” and “against” before we were going to make it available to our audience.  Below is what was submitted to us from the two sides via email…

The “Opposed” Side:  IT’S OK TO SAY NO! 

The first group, whose signs can be seen around the Bellville ISD community with the slogan “It’s OK To Say NO!” submitted the following to us: 

  • The brunt of higher taxes will fall on local businesses and young families. Our tax base is largely agriculture and 65+, lacking needed revenues in industry/commercial.
  • Actual enrollment numbers of BISD do not justify a new high school. According to a Templeton Demographics Report (BISD 2021 Bond Proposal FAQ), paid for by BISD, enrollment increased by 114 students over the last 10 years. Projected increase for the next 10 years is 35.
  • With INTEREST, total debt of Prop A could exceed $175 MILLION.  (NO FIXED INTEREST commitment- “presumption” of 2.85%).
  • With INTEREST, total debt of Props A & B could approach $190 MILLION (NO FIXED INTEREST commitment).
  • BISD still owes $15 MILLION from an accumulation of bond debt over the last 8 years.  So, with Props A&B, the principal alone is $127.7 MILLION.  Annual DEBT PAYMENTS: $5 MILLION
  • How many folks think their local taxes are already too high? 2/3rds of our annual tax bill goes to BISD.
  • Much of the rationale for the new high school, like the purchase of the Wells Fargo building, is due to the expansion of Career and Technology Education or CTE. As our district receives huge grants from the state, (because of HB 3) to grow the program, there is NO GUARANTEE that the state will continue to fund CTE in the future, leaving us, the  taxpayers, to foot the bill. TOO much of a good thing???
  • A select group of local insiders led the Capital Improvement Committee (CIC). Public notice to recruit folks for this committee was on the BISD website only. The “unconnected”  were unaware of its existence, left out of planning, never informed of the committee’s progress and never invited to attend discussions. But now that the ink is dry, we are all expected to be onboard and pay the bill.
  • The large consulting company, Huckabee, had representatives at most of the CIC non-publicized meetings. Now, Huckabee has a contract for architecture for renovations at Wells Fargo. Hmm.
  • New Ag and Show Barns? Who asked for that?  Austin County Fairgrounds has always been most accommodating to BISD Ag. There has been no documentation of need
  • BISD teachers must be paid more or we will continue to lose them! Some have confided that they can’t even get the tools/materials they need to teach. Teacher pay increase would be a better return on investment.
  • As the U.S. is struggling, wouldn’t it be wise to narrow the scope of this proposition? With skyrocketing inflation in this uncertain economy, would it not be prudent to reexamine the price tag?
  • This bond election is an ALL OR NOTHING false choice. That’s insulting. No public forum was offered to discuss alternatives to the propositions rolled out in July.  The decisions were made under the “advice” of a for-profit consulting company which now holds the lucrative architecture contract for the Wells Fargo building.  We are concerned.
  • According to the Facilities Assessment from the Texas Assoc. Of School Boards, paid for by BISD, Bellville HS, Jr. High, West End and O’Bryant Primary are all considered “Average Utilized”, which begs the question, why are we discussing a new high school?
  • Needs vs. Wants. It is the  school board’s job to make known the legitimate needs of the District, and to avoid commingling needs and wants.
  • WE DO SUPPORT A BOND ELECTION!  We understand the need to invest money in our schools and support the demolition/ rebuilding of O’Bryant Intermediate.
  • WE DO SUPPORT adding functional space to accommodate for more cafeteria and CTE space.
  • WE DO SUPPORT finding more economical ways to revitalize West End and Spicer.
  • WE DO SUPPORT a bond for $44 million, greatly improving the educational environment in our schools.

Vote “NO” on this bond and send a message to BISD that we need solutions that align with Bellville economics.

 

Our Bond Information Fact Committee appreciates this opportunity to discuss these issues of our schools.

There is also a public Facebook Group that was created: “VOTE NO AGAINST 2021 BELLVILLE (TX) ISD BOND“.

The “Support” Side:  VOTE YES! BRAHMA SCHOOL BOND November 2021

The other side, the “pro” side, did not submit a list of informational points like the opposed side did.  They submitted letters from individuals in the area that were printed in the Bellville Times.  We are placing them below for you to read:

The school board and administration have initiated efforts to prepare non- college bound students for life after graduation.  The new high school programs contain curriculum such as agriculture, construction, healthcare, law enforcement, culinary arts, graphic design, business and entrepreneurship.  These career and technical education (CTE) programs are designed to work with local businesses to ensure BHS students are prepared to enter the work force in whatever area they choose.

As a business owner of Sprit T’s, I will be working closely with the school to teach and mentor students in graphic design and small business ownership.  It is our goal to give the students a portfolio that they can take into the work force, prepared to begin their careers in their chosen field.

As a parent, I have seen firsthand what a difference these classes can and have made in the few short years they have been implemented.  I enthusiastically support the bond and the school board and superintendent in their efforts to provide career training for kids that are looking for alternatives to college.

Thank you,

Shawna Powell

 

There is a lot to love about living in Bellville. Our way of life is full of supportive friends and neighbors who celebrate our town’s unique culture: Friday Night Lights, Market Days, local businesses that act as a backbone of our livelihoods and community. All of this allows us to live a slowed-down, family- and community-focused lifestyle.

A common phrase I’ve heard is that we need to “Keep Bellville, Bellville.” Passing this bond will be very important to maintaining our way of life and cementing that we value education in our community.

With Bellville being such a strong community, our schools should be the shining example. Let’s give our students, teachers, and staff the physical infrastructure that will allow them to succeed. These much-needed facilities will enhance student success and retention as we prepare children and future generations for the jobs of tomorrow.

Please vote YES to Prop A and B to help keep our town as great as it is.

Thank you,

Kristin Kotlar

 

There is very little argument that dollars spent on education are well spent. Whether it’s on improved teacher salaries and benefits, new technology in the classroom, or improved facilities, educating our community’s future leaders is paramount to our town’s success.

I am sympathetic to the current economic environment, but the school would not be seeking a bond if this wasn’t necessary to the school district’s success. Voting on this project now is the best financial deal we will ever have, as construction costs will continue to rise.

Additionally, the bond’s funds would also benefit the local economy. An influx of construction projects will be a tremendous economic boost, especially as many businesses have struggled with COVID-19 economic conditions in the past two years.

Please vote YES to both bond propositions to demonstrate your investment in our community’s students, teachers, and businesses.

Thank you,

Philip Shackelford

 

Many education-related best practices have changed since I began my career 15 years ago. As you could imagine, the same goes for the facilities we use every single day. Our high school was built in 1970, Junior High in 1986, and OBI in 1957. Although OBP was built in 1998, we are already at capacity for that campus.

Newly-built campuses include spaces that better foster collaboration, vastly improve energy efficiency, and enhance safety for all students. Building a new high school and making improvements to the other campuses also allows us to evaluate how to better integrate technology to meet current and future needs.

The campus plans supported by the bond initiative allows us to put each campus at its best use. Our junior high gym home side is frequently at capacity. Shifting to the current high school allows us plenty of room to watch our young Brahmas and Brahmanettes as they develop athletically. Having theater facilities will also better support our award-winning BJHS UIL one-act play participants. The overcrowding at OPI will be eliminated by moving to the current-day Junior High, and give them facilities and opportunities that are beyond other intermediate schools.

This isn’t a matter of ‘Build It and They Will Come.” They are already here. If we are going to best educate and prepare our students for life, improving facilities will be key.

I fully support these efforts and hope that you will too.

Thank you,

Emily Barrera

 

As a long-time Bellville resident, I enthusiastically support the BISD bond because I support having a better-educated community. I recognize that all things in life — including fundamental tenets of our society — come with a cost.

Taxes pay for lots of things that society values: education, roads, fire, medical and police services, water/sewer authorities, and many other services. Ultimately this is not a situation where we should be arguing about how little money can be spent. Our community needs more than just a Band-Aid on the current and future facilities issues.

OBI has been in use for 70 years, and the current high school has been in use for 50 years. These were built so long that people my age went to school in these buildings. We should be able to agree that these buildings have met their purposes.

Please vote YES to both Prop A and Prop B, giving our children the best facilities for their education.

Thank you,

Martha Lischka

 

Throughout the years, Bellville ISD has funded all kinds of repairs, renovations, and additions to our aging facilities. Regardless of the construction project, the focus is always the same: our students. As a parent, I absolutely support BISD’s efforts in improving facilities — and thereby academics — for all children in our community.

We can all acknowledge the importance of our learning environments. This bond is specifically to develop the environments to improve academics, student safety, and equity. This is our community’s opportunity to provide funds to support the district’s goals of providing our students a top-notch education.

This school board and the BISD administrators have demonstrated repeatedly that they take measured actions that promote fiscal responsibility. However, money absolutely needs to be spent at this time to ensure our facilities best serve the educational needs for our school district.

Every dollar of these bond propositions is needed to support the district’s educational objectives. We need to build state-of-the-art learning environments, update aging facilities, and provide resources for career and technical education programs.

It isn’t just that we need more space at each campus — we also need to better prepare students for the future. The capital improvement plans allow each campus to act as its best use to support learning.

It is crucial to our children’s education that we pass this bond, and I encourage you to vote YES for Prop A and Prop B.

Thank you,

Jessica Gordon

There is also a public Facebook Group for this side:  “Yes For Bellville ISD

There is also another public Facebook Group:  “BOND Election FACTS Committee

 

Early Voting has already begun and election day to decide on the bond is November 2, 2021.