On Monday, the Hays CISD school board voted 7-0 to call an election in May for the $250 million bond they put the finishing touches on last week.
The bond will total $250 million and will be split into two propositions. The first will be for nearly $189 million to go toward a third high school, a 14th elementary school and a school building to replace the existing Buda Elementary School campus. The second proposition would be for just over $60 million and include 21 other projects, including a baseball and softball complex, transportation facility and expansion of learning facilities.
The projects in the bond were based on recommendations made by the Growth Impact Committee, a group of citizens who examined district needs and prepared a list of projects ranked by necessity. The committee’s recommendation would have cost just over $265 million.
Last week, board trustees knocked off $15 million by eliminating construction of a 100,000-square-foot administrative services facility, as well as cutting the number of maintenance bays from a proposed transportation facility and allowing just over $1.9 million from the general operating fund balance to be used.
The $15 million decrease wasn’t enough for some residents, including Matt Ocker, who spoke during the citizen comment period Monday and was a familiar face at meetings during the bond process.
“I am not opposed to building all the projects,” he said. “What I’m opposed to is getting less bang for our buck because we want pretty [architectural] things that don’t do anything.”
He said Central Texas schools tend to be “extravagant.” Ocker asked board trustees to take the square footage of the proposed school buildings and compare the price to what it would cost to build a barn of that size.
“I can’t justify it. I see it, quite frankly, as theft,” Ocker said. “If y’all take one penny more from me than what is absolutely necessary to do the job to educate our children, you have stolen from me.”
While it is too late for this bond, trustee Esperanza Orosco and other school board members raised the idea of having a citizen committee to look at school designs and give input for a future bond.
“Transparency is key,” Orosco said. "Getting that [community] input is vital in getting these bonds passed.”
According to a district release, the bond proposal would not require the school board to increase the current school district tax rate if approved. The bond propositions will appear on the May 6 ballot.