Willis ISD approves $109.5 million bond referendum

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The Willis ISD board or trustees voted to seek voter approval for a $109.5 million school bond referendum during its Aug. 12 meeting. The referendum will appear on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

If approved by voters, bond funds would be used to build an elementary school campus at the southeast corner of MP Clarke and League Line roads with a capacity for 800 students, district officials said.

Willis High School will also receive several enhancements, including a 500-student capacity Career and Technology Center that could feature cosmetology, nursing and automotive programs. The district also has plans for a new 1,000-seat auditorium at the school along with an agricultural center to increase Future Farmers of America program participation.

Additional renovations at the school could include construction of a dance studio for the school’s drill team, according to the district.

Board President Christen Arnold said the Career and Technology Center at Willis High School would aid students who do not attend college after graduation and are instead able to leave the school with certifications to enter the workforce.

“We want to reach out to every student, the student that will go to college and the student that won’t go to college that will have a career right when they leave Willis High School,” Arnold said.

Brabham Middle School is expected to receive a 250-student expansion from bond funds along with construction of a track and four tennis courts, which would allow students to remain on campus for sports practice rather than riding the bus to Lynn Lucas Middle School.

The district would also install field turf at Berton A. Yates Stadium as well as pickup and dropoff lane improvements at four campuses with bond money, district officials said.

According to the district, the $109.5 million bond would result in a maximum property tax increase of 6.75 cents per $100 of valuation. That would bring the total tax rate to $1.4575 per $100 taxable assessed valuation.

“The last bond passed in the school district was $39.5 million in 2006, and that had a 10-cent tax increase,”Superintendent Tim Harkrider said. “It will not be nine years before we need to come back for another bond election. We felt like this is the bond we needed to take us out for the next six or seven years and then be ready to go for another one.”

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