Two McLennan County school districts will each put a measure before voters Nov. 7 that would increase their tax rates.
Connally ISD is hosting a tax ratification election that would let it bring in $1.6 million more in state money to fund academic improvements and transportation needs.
Mart ISD is hosting a bond election, hoping to take out $9.2 million in debt to fund construction of a new high school and other facilities improvements. The move would require a tax increase. The district’s high school building has already closed, and its high school classes are temporarily being held in its former elementary school building.
Early voting starts Monday, and Election Day is Nov. 7.
The Connally ISD measure would raise its maintenance and operations tax rate 13 cents per $100 of property value, to an overall rate of $1.37 per $100 of valuation, giving Connally ISD a chance to make up for a lack of state funding the past several years, Superintendent Wesley Holt said.
“It’s not something we’re trying to hoodwink the community into raising our taxes for. There’s a need out there,” said Don Hancock, a former Connally ISD superintendent who helped with the planning behind the election. “… Connally’s done a good job of managing the funds they have, but when you lose some of the state money, the only way you can regain that is on the M&O side by raising taxes to maximize the state funding.”
In addition to the extra local tax revenue, the move would also result in the district getting $1.6 million more in state money. THe state money would go toward new learning materials, instructional aides, technology, teacher training, staff development, improving band facilities and more. The funds will also go toward funding the district’s full-day pre-kindergarten program, hiring bus aides, replacing aging school buses and repairing campus roads.
“With the new regulations behind buses with seat belts, we need to hire some aides to be sure we’re being safe on our buses,” Holt said. “We also need to replace our buses. We have some buses that are very, very old and date way back. We have some with a 170-something-thousand miles on them.”
Mart ISD officials have asked voters to approve the largest bond in the district’s history, $9.2 million, to replace the district’s aging high school.
The district has temporarily consolidated operations from three campuses to two, closing the 1929 high school building this summer.
The bond, and a $4 million donation from an alumnus, are expected to pay for the cost of the new campus, interim Superintendent Len Williams said in August.
If voters approve the bond, the district’s tax rate of a little more than $1.20 per $100 of property value would likely increase by 32.5 cents.
The rate would remain lower than the rate of $1.60 per $100 of value that was in effect between 2000 and 2004.
The new high school will be attached to the junior high building and is expected to have at least 20 new classrooms, a state of the art science and technology lab and new vocational areas, including an agriculture classroom and a shop area, Williams said. The school will also include a new competition gym that accommodates more than 600 spectators and new locker rooms, according to a diagram of the plan provided by the district.
Two new classrooms and new restrooms will also be added for the junior high, and the district will build three new parking lots around the campus.
If approved, the project is expected to be complete by the 2019-20 school year, Williams said.