La Marque Schools

Victor Cantu, Texas City Independent School District maintenance manager of La Marque schools walks past stacked chairs in the gym at La Marque Middle School in La Marque on Aug. 5, 2016.

STUART VILLANUEVA/The Daily News

Texas City school officials have been a little reluctant to use the words, but the district most likely is preparing to call a bond referendum.

District administrators had a mild objection earlier this month when the newspaper linked a call for volunteers to serve on a facilities advisory committee to a call for a bond issue in the near future.

It was too soon for that linking, they said.

That was a fair enough point. The committee, which is forming, will assess the district’s capital needs and form some idea about costs before there might be any call for a referendum.

And, given that the Texas City district faces some atypical circumstances, maybe district leaders have an idea about paying for capital improvements in some way other than a local bond issue.

What’s already clear is the district needs money for capital improvements and capital improvement money typically comes through issuing bonds.

Likewise, it’s a fact that school districts normally form facilities advisory committees in preparation for bond referendums. Such committees serve no purpose other than to determine capital needs and how much money it would take to meet those needs.

It’s also a fact, in our experience observing both successful and failed propositions, that it’s pretty hard to sneak up on a bond issue and counterproductive to try.

All that aside, if community leaders working on this issue are being a bit sensitive about the word “bond,” it’s understandable.

They’ve taken on a job that’s always difficult and mostly thankless and maybe especially so in this case.

Asking taxpayers to dig a little deeper in support of public education always has been hard and is more so now. Calling a bond election anywhere lately stirs political groups that oppose public education and taxation just as a matter of beloved ideology.

We saw that in the misinformation and disinformation campaigns conducted against the $487 million Clear Creek Independent School District bond proposal that voters approved in May.

The Texas City district faces what could be an especially thorny situation because a good deal of the capital improvement it needs to make is at campuses once operated by La Marque Independent School District.

There’s not much question about whether the La Marque campuses need improvement. It was widely agreed they badly needed capital investment before they flooded during Hurricane Harvey, which obviously didn’t improve things. The only question there is how much capital investment.

The main question, of course, is whether Texas City voters would support a bond proposition meant to improve those schools.

It seems to us that Texas City ISD is morally, ethically and legally bound to make the La Marque campuses equal in quality to those in Texas City.

We hope Texas City voters will approach this process with that in mind and with the same attitude as Jose Boix, a member of the advisory committee.

“The objective is to bring the school district to all the same level of excellence,” Boix told a Daily News reporter recently.

“We’re together and we want the best for all of our kids. That’s where we are. We need to know what needs to be done and how to do it.”

There’s another reason this situation is atypical, and it’s one that should influence how it’s resolved.

The Texas City school district has been dealt a challenging hand over the past 16 or so months. The state more or less drafted it to assume control of La Marque students and facilities. The district has been hit as hard as any by the ill financial wind issuing from Austin, and then there’s Harvey.

Our state representatives should be looking for creative ways to assist the district in meeting the moral, ethical and legal obligation it has to make things equal.

Is there a way to do that, or pay for part of it, with money other than local tax revenue? There ought to be.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

(1) comment

Randy Chapman

The State pretty much forced Texas City ISD to combine with LMISD. Ok,Texas City has done what was mandated, and it's now the State's turn to pony up the money to fix the issues that destroyed LM.

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