A survey of more than 600 people registered to vote in Texas City ISD elections showed strong support, at least for the individual parts, of a bond proposition the school board is contemplating for a May referendum.

Meanwhile, the amount of debt recommended by a community group comprised of Texas City and La Marque residents, who had been charged with assessing the district’s buildings and infrastructure, was reasonable by today’s standards.

The community group during a meeting Thursday recommended Texas City public school trustees call a $135.9 million bond proposition.

Almost $136 million is a lot of money, and can sound like even more if you don’t spend a lot of time reading about what it costs to build things these days. The number is fairly modest, though, in context of the capital projects the committee recommended and compared to other districts.

Clear Creek ISD, for example, last year passed a bond of $487 million. It’s a much larger and faster-growing district, of course, but that substantial bond issue was only the most recent. The district also passed: $162 million in 2000; $337 million in 2003; $264 million in 2004; $183 million in 2007; and $367 million in 2013.

Dickinson ISD, which, at about 11,000 students, is closer in size to Texas City’s student population of 9,000 or so, also has invested considerable amounts into capital improvements — $107.5 million in 2007; $56 million in 2014; and $70 million last year.

Our point is that building and maintaining the facilities and support systems needed for an adequate, much less excellent, public school system is expensive.

Consider that Galveston ISD trustees last week called a May bond referendum seeking $31 million. That also is a lot of money, but would pay for only the most crucial of about $65 million in repairs needed at district facilities. Galveston public school trustees already are working on a second, larger bond proposition for later this year or next.

The bottom line is school districts, and the communities they serve, can either make periodical capital investment in their facilities or they can allow those facilities to fall apart.

As with all things, community leaders in Texas City have been extremely fiscally conservative about issuing debt. The district asked for and got $39.75 million in 2000, and $122.5 million in 2007. That’s about as close to the bone as you can do it.

Had the school district experienced nothing but normal wear and tear in the 10 years since 2007, it still would have been about time to call a bond vote.

The past couple of those years haven’t been typical, of course. The district has assumed responsibility for facilities in the former La Marque ISD and is dealing with the consequences of a historical flood.

In our view, calling a bond proposition isn’t only right and reasonable, it was inevitable and inescapable.

The only real questions are whether the board will seek the whole $135.9 million or some amount less than that; and what effect that number will have on the tax rate property owners in the district must pay.

We argue that even the recommended $135.9 million would be reasonable and wouldn’t drive up the tax rate past what the public can absorb.

• Michael A. Smith

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

(6) comments

David Smith

And not one word about Robin Hood.....

Jose' Boix

True, Mr. Smith. However, that is the travesty of the "funding" system; the education of all our students can't wait till our legislators act.
Just consider the money that is "pending." Harvey/FEMA and insurance settlements for damaged buildings, the Chapter 41/Robin Hood - money that could be deemed to be used for local needs, funding to help with the unification of the La Marque schools with TCISD; just a few to name.
The challenge we all had was to propose the most judicious and financially prudent approach keeping a sharp sight of the future; i.e., fix vs. rebuild. We are all together as one school district, and as such we all should be looking at what best for all our students using the best tools and approaches we have now. However, that is not to say that we will not continue to fight for what we consider to be our "funding rights."

Robert Waggoner

Do you have a link to where all the bond money proposed will be spent? If the bond passes, what percent of the bond will be paid in taxes by Texas City residents and what percent will be paid in taxes by the LaMarque residents?

Jose' Boix

Mr. Waggoner check this link https://www.tcisd.org/our-district/fac for details of the proposal made to the TCISD Board of Trustees. Below a summary of the projects:
Summary of Recommendations
A. Build Four New Schools
La Marque Primary School, $24.1 million
Manuel Guajardo, Jr. Elementary School, $25.7 million
La Marque Elementary School, $24.4 million
La Marque Middle School, $44.5 million

B. Invest in Three District-Wide Initiatives
1. Safety and Security, $6.5 million
2. Roof and Parking, $9 million
3. One Computer Each Student (Grades 7-12), $1.9 million

Estimated Total: $136.1 million for four new schools plus the three District-wide initiatives.

Regarding the "percent of the bond" since we are now a single district, all the residents/property owners within the TCISD will pay for the Bond. Please note that residents of La Marque and Texas City are now part of the TCISD. Anyone with a Voter Registration Code SCHOOL S18_ is a registered voter within TCISD.

Robert Waggoner

Jose', Your link is not accurate. I went to tcisd.org, once in went to "Our District" then to "Facility Advisory Committee". The contents is basically talking points about the survey which you made in your summary reply to me. The survey was a little misleading. Making the point about that it's for TCISD which covers both Texas City and LaMarque. I get that. It doesn't state anywhere how the taxes from bond if passed will be managed. We all know that in time there will be another LMISD in the future unless Texas City and LaMarque become one city. That IMOP will never happen. Since this plan calls for a better that 3 to 1 spending in LaMarque for new schools and other improvements, will LaMarque residents tax portion be at least 3 times higher than Texas City taxes from this bond and shouldn't how this bond is paid for been put in the survey?

Jose' Boix

Robert; you asked about a link to details where the bond money will be spent if the bond passes. The link I posted has the summary information under Summary of Recommendations - Build Four New Schools, Invest in Three District-Wide Initiatives and Estimated Total. Basically the details I also posted. In addition you asked what percent of the bond will be paid in taxes by Texas City residents and what percent will be paid in taxes by the LaMarque residents. The answer is that the tax burden will be paid by all the TCISD residents - all the folks who live and have businesses within the TCISD boundaries which include Texas City, La Marque, Bayou Vista, Tiki Island, etc. There is a Map posted in the TCISD Website. Finally, I am not sure that there will be another LMISD in the near future. For now, that is not anywhere near consideration.

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