$230 million bond election in Red Oak ISD imminent

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Red Oak ISD residents have an opportunity to vote on a proposed $230.1 million bond issue this spring.

On Monday, the ROISD Board of Trustees voted to call a May 7 bond election to help meet growth, aging facilities, security and technology needs.

The bond is expected to be split into four proposals.

If the entire bond is approved, the district’s total tax rate would increase from $1.3256 per $100 appraisal to $1.3666. A homeowner with a net worth of $310,000 would pay $10.59 more per month in school district taxes after a homestead exemption. Residents age 65 and older with a homestead exemption would not see an increase beyond the first year’s amount unless significant improvements are made to the home.

On Thursday, members of the Citizens Facility Planning Committee provided the board of trustees and community members with a detailed look at the proposed bond package.

Many of the proposed projects in the bond aim to manage the current and expected growth in ROISD.

According to the district, ROISD has added 550 students since last year and is expected to add another 1,000 students by 2026. From 2020 to 2024, the city of Red Oak is expected to add 8,665 new residents.

The district said five of seven campuses were occupied at 92 percent or more with the current zoning as of November last year. Holz and Schupmann elementary schools are at 88 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

Without changes to facilities, all but Red Oak Elementary are expected to be at more than 110 percent occupancy by 2026.

proposals

Proposal A would be the construction and modernization of school buildings. The most expensive property on the list is a new $85 million middle school on the west side of the city.

In December, the board approved the purchase of 47.5 acres for this facility. If approval is granted, the new campus is expected to open in 2025.

Red Oak High School senior Jose Moreno was among several in favor of the bond Monday, saying the middle school of 1,600 students, as well as other campuses, need to be relieved.

“Since the moment I walked into the sixth grade center, I have had to deal with crowded hallways, lunch lines that left you little or no time to eat, and teachers overwhelmed by crowded hallways, lunches, classes and buses , deal with it,” Moreno said. “I’ve noticed this problem in both high school and middle school for the past six years. The conditions at the middle school are much worse than before.”

The bond would also fund safety improvements to the existing middle school on the sidewalks between buildings.

Also part of Proposition A is a new Career and Technology Education (CTE) program in the high school. Officials said many students in the CTE program spend a lot of time going back and forth to the middle school, where the existing program is located.

There are also additions and conversions to the high school. Additions include an indoor exercise room and a third gym. On Monday, several students spoke out in favor of the bond, in part because of the additional space that would be made available for practice by various organizations such as the band, cheerleading and color guard.

Wooden Elementary and Eastridge Elementary would each get a new kitchen and cafeteria. The existing kitchen and cafeteria would be converted into eight new classrooms, which would accommodate 160 students, according to Gabriel Garcia, the committee’s vice chair, adding that the project would help the district improve enrollment projections for the next five to 10 years deal with.

Garcia said it would also help with noise pollution from the cafeteria.

A new road would be built around the back of the building to help traffic flow.

Other projects include playground upgrades at all elementary schools to bring them up to ADA standards and district-wide energy management upgrades.

Proposal B would fund improvements to Goodloe Stadium. These include new locker rooms, toilets, concessions, a press box, new visitor-side seating, more home-side seating, additional parking, additional thoroughfares, new visitor buses and officer parking, and a new scoreboard.

“This is our first impression for the community, for all visitors to Red Oak,” said committee co-chair Bryan Bell, adding that there are ADA issues. “And it’s not the best impression out there.”

Improvements also include full course renewals and an additional track on the course, which Bell says is recommended for UIL competitions.

Proposal C would be to improve recreational facilities.

District is proposing a new JV athletics/turf field at the high school to reduce transit to Goodloe for practice and to help with scheduling issues. It also includes upgrades to the 12-year-old tennis courts and year-round turf for baseball and softball. Several coaches supported the connection and said the sports facilities needed repairs.

Proposition D calls for a new transport facility. Bell said the building and parking are inadequate amid flooding issues and a lack of maintenance space. Bell said ridership has increased 39 percent since 2015-16.

During Thursday and Monday meetings, the parents said they support the bond, even though some of them will not have children in school when the proposed facility projects are completed.

“I’m not voting for my kids,” said resident and committee member Kayla Mattox. “I’m voting for the future students of Red Oak ISD.”

Past Bonds

Committee members said the importance of this proposed bond was underscored by the failure of the 2017 bond.

ROISD’s $74 million bond election in 2017 was rejected, meaning the last time a bond passed was in 2007, when voters approved a $97 million bond.

“We wouldn’t have to ask for that big of a bond if we’d been able to get that particular bond through,” Bell said.

Garcia points to the middle school as one reason it’s important to have one now, saying the cost of building the middle school has increased from $45 million in 2007 to $85 million now.

“It’s important to note that prices are not going down,” Garcia said.

Bond opposition

While the majority of local residents who spoke Monday supported the tie, three local residents opposed it.

ROISD mother Anna Harwell said she questioned the timing of the bond pick to name the economic climate.

“It’s a huge bond,” Harwell said. “As the entire world struggles to recover from the pandemic and government shutdowns, you are demanding millions of dollars from taxpayers.”

Harwell also noted inflation across the country.

“We should be looking at spending and budget cuts,” she said.

ROISD mother Amy Hedtke voiced concerns about the bond issue, pointing to rising property values.

“You take a tariff that takes more money out of your pocket every year,” said Hedtke. “You know the ratings are going up. They refuse to introduce a course that will give them a break.”

Hedtke also said the meetings of the facility committee were not open to the public.

Early voting runs from April 25th to May 3rd. The voter registration deadline is April 7th.

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