Robinson ISD is making a third try at passing a bond to build a new middle school. More expensive bonds got voted down in November of 2011 and 2013. But school board trustees think $19.5 million dollars sounds about right. The election comes at a time when school districts across the state are taking on more debt.
The bond would go towards replacing Robinson’s 50-year old middle school. Supporters of the measure say the building is inefficient, has electrical problems, and someday won’t have enough room. Kevin Kenny is a Robinson ISD trustee; he says there’s no sense in adding portable classrooms to the aging building.
"When it comes along to the intermediate school, are you gonna add a a structure next to one that that’s old to begin with? Well that’s like trying to make a silk purse out of the old sow’s ear," Kenny said.
Robinson ISD’s bond is part of a veritable bond election season this May. According to the Texas Comptroller’s office there is $6.7 billion dollars in local bond propositions on the table. The great majority of that bond money is comes to local independent school districts.
Jess Fields is a senior analyst working on local government issues at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He says school districts need to be careful of how many projects they fund with debt.
"There’s nothing wrong with accommodating growth and building facilities that are truly needed," Field said. "But I think it has to be done in a very precise, careful surgical way so that only those projects that are truly necessary are paid for out of debt and that you don’t load up a bond package with a variety of things that may seem like a good idea but in the fatality of it is really going to end up costing taxpayers a lot of money."
If passed, the bond proposal will raise taxes by 24 and a half cents for every $100 a property is worth. That’s over the first eight years. Then the amount would decrease as the debt is paid off. The average home in Robinson ISD’s district is worth almost $126,000, at that price an owner would pay an increase of $26.25 a month.
Laura Crawford is the chair of the Building for our Community PAC—a group that’s advocating for the bond to pass. She says the elementary school in Robinson is at capacity and with those kids moving on to middle school, the district is going to need more space.
"Well next year there’s going to be a huge first grade class and then three years there’s gonna be a huge fourth grade class." Crawford said. "So we’re gonna have to look at our younger grades now to kinda project as to how big our classes are going to be when our kids are in fourth, fifth or sixth grades to determine how big the facilities need to be."
Robinson’s bond election is May 10th.