Willis ISD places $175 million bond package on May ballot

From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Correction: This article originally named Lynn Lucas Middle School as Lynn Lucas Elementary.



The Willis ISD board of trustees approved placing a $175 million bond package with a maximum $0.10 tax rate increase for the May 2 election at its Feb. 10 meeting, with proposed projects focused on building improvements and athletic additions.



The bond is separated into three propositions, according to a presentation by Abbie Holland and Brittany Castellon, members of the WISD Long Term Planning Committee and parents in the district.



At $100.15 million, Proposition A includes roof repair, chiller replacements, and floor replacements at all schools throughout the district and 4,500-square-foot gym additions at Parmley, Cannan, Meador and Turner elementary schools. The proposition also includes 18 classroom additions for Lynn Lucas Middle School as well as the construction of a new pre-K center.



Proposition B is focused on athletic additions to the Willis High School area, including relocating the softball field, adding a baseball field, adding tennis courts, relocating the track and constructing a new football stadium. This stadium would seat 7,500 spectators and have additional parking. The total proposition is $62.53 million.



Holland said the idea behind this proposition was to bring athletics into one place.



“A lot of the students that are involved in a lot of these programs have to travel,” Holland said.



Superintendent Tim Harkrider said Senate Bill 30, which was signed into law June 7, requires districts seeking bond funds to construct major additions, such as a natatorium, to place them on their own proposition. Thus, Proposition C includes only the proposed $12.5 million natatorium, which Holland said was expected to house two high schools’ audiences and teams, or 155 spectators and two teams.



“We’re one of the few districts in the area that does not have one,” Holland said. “Our swim program has gotten a lot of traction.”



Holland said the district’s tax rate was $1.39 before it was brought down $0.12 to $1.27 by House Bill 3, which was signed into law June 11 and provided $5.1 billion in tax relief. She said the maximum increase for the bond is $0.10, making the rate $1.37; however, when the district proposed a $0.675 increase for its 2015 bond, no increase was applied because of the additional growth in the area providing the funds necessary for the bond.



The $109.5 million 2015 bond included enhancement projects at Willis High School and Brabham Middle School, new turf at Berton A. Yates Stadium, and pickup and drop-off lane improvements at several campuses. With 2,328 votes, 60% of voters favored the referendum, while 1,524 residents, or 40% of voters, opposed it.



Early voting begins April 20. Information about voting locations and hours can be found and Montgomery County elections’ website at https://elections.mctx.org

By Andy Li


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