Now that the $127 million Huntsville ISD school bond is on the ballot, the conversation turns to the community.
District officials, former committee members and bond advocates took to the community on Monday to share information regarding the multi-million dollar bond that goes before the Huntsville community votes on May 1.
A second public informational meeting will be held April 12 at Mance Park Middle School.
Huntsville ISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Sheppard said he is now in the informational and educational phase of the bond process. This means he and other bond advocates are sharing information about the process of building the bond proposal and what is involved in the bond.
The bonds call for the renovation and expansion of nearly every campus within the district for about $92 million and a new athletics stadium on the high school campus for $35 million.
It also includes the implementation of a district-wide grade reconsolidation plan, which will merge pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students into four elementary schools, while moving 6th grade students to Mance Park Middle School. The bond also calls for major security and technology upgrades district-wide.
“We have not passed bonds to invest in our school infrastructure in 23 years,” Sheppard told the small crowd at Monday night’s meeting. “We have employees in the district that were not born the last time that we, as a community, have invested in our district.”
If approved, the bond is estimated to cost taxpayers a maximum 9.94 cents per $100 of assessed value. This would mean that a homeowner would pay $74,59 more per year for a $100,000 property. However, those over the age of 65 with a homestead exemption would not see an increase in their school taxes.
However, according to Sheppard the increased debt would not only update the aging infrastructure, but also free up maintenance and operations revenue for teacher salary increases and additional programing.
“When you have no debt and a low interest and sinking tax rate, then major purchases like busses and technology are paid with maintenance and operations dollars instead of debt,” Sheppard noted. “We have to use so much from our maintenance and operations budget just to maintain our aging infrastructure, which leaves less money in the budget for people and instructional programs.”
He noted that the district would be able to save $2-3 million a year in maintenance.
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE
Thursday will mark the last day that eligible voters will be able to register. Anyone wishing to vote in the district’s special election who is not already registered, is encouraged to stop by the Walker County Voter Registration Office located at 1301 Sam Houston Ave., Ste. 114 and complete an application on or before the April 1 deadline.
All registered voters within the district’s boundaries are eligible to participate in the bond election.
Early voting will begin April 19, and last two weeks at the Walker County Storm Shelter. Those over the age of 65 on Election Day, have a disability, are confined in jail or will be outside of the county during early voting hours and on Election Day can opt to vote by mail. Applications to vote by mail must be received by the Walker County Early Voting Clerk no later than 5 p.m. on April 20.