Valley Mills Independent School District will be expanding its facilities after voters approved an $8.4 million bond in Saturday’s election.

Voters passed the bond with 272 votes for and 148 votes against to fund projects at the junior high/high school campus and the elementary campus. The election was one of five school district elections Saturday, with voters mostly opting to keep school board incumbents in place.

“The board of trustees and I thank the voters for supporting this bond proposal,” Valley Mills Superintendent Judi Whitis wrote in an email after the election. “It is a great step forward for both the students and the entire Valley Mills community.

“You have my commitment and the commitment of the board of trustees to continue being good stewards of your money as we move forward with the construction projects. We appreciate your trust and support.”

The proposal includes additions and renovations to the junior high/high school campus that will add space for sixth grade, expand science and fine arts classrooms and add physical education and athletics space. Canopies are expected to be added to the elementary campus, the district’s website states.

The district also had the most-contested school board race in this month’s local elections, with five candidates vying for two at-large seats.

Board Vice President Alice West, 51, and trustee Jim Blackford, 47, faced three challengers: insurance agent Steven Owens, 43; teacher Ted Jones, 68; and Pepsi employee Josh Thayer, 35.

West was voted out, and Owens came out on top with 174 votes. Incumbent Jim Blackford will fill the other seat after getting 169 votes. Jones followed closely behind with 155 votes, then Thayer with 115. No runoff election is needed, Whitis said.

Lorena ISD

Of the other three races, Lorena ISD had one of the largest slate of candidates, with two incumbents and a newcomer fighting for two at-large seats.

Kristi Rowan Humphreys, 39, an editor and senior writer at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, took on incumbent David Busch, 44, Home Abstract and Title president, and board President Mary Timmons, 58, a speech language pathologist.

Both incumbents came out on top, with Timmons getting 149 votes, Busch getting 157 and Humphreys getting 66.

Connally ISD

In Connally, Place 4 incumbent Kathy Coker, 63, held out to keep her seat against challenger Trey Copeland, 39. Incumbent Brenda Price, 57, will keep her Place 3 seat after running unopposed.

Coker came out on top with 81 votes to Copeland’s 72, and Price got 117 votes.

Midway ISD

Midway ISD had one of the smaller races, but it was the first time the district partnered with McLennan County to participate in the county-run joint general election. The move is expected to save the district between $3,000 and $4,000 this election, officials said.

The district had only one contested race, with first-time candidate Eloisa Esparza going up against incumbent Susan Vick, the school board’s secretary.

Vick retained her seat Saturday with 825 votes to Esparza’s 184.

Board President Pete Rusek was uncontested in his bid to retain his Place 1 seat and earned 848 votes.

Shelly Conlon has covered K-12 education for the Tribune-Herald since July 2016. Prior to the Tribune-Herald, she was the managing editor for the Waxahachie Daily Light, and an intern for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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