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Cumby ISD Board Of Trustees Calls For A 2-Proposition Bond Election

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Cumby ISD Board of Trustees, during their regular February meeting Thursday night, called for a special 2-proposition bond election to be held May 1, 2021. This is the second time the board has called for a bond election for facilities improvements in the last few years.

Cumby ISD voters were asked during the Nov. 5, 2019 election to consider approving a school bond to expand the elementary campus, which would require moving the stadium and construction of a dirt track for students. The bond was defeated by only 10 votes. Trustees also considered calling for a bond election in 2020, but discarded the idea at that time.

Screen capture from the Feb. 11, 2021 Cumby ISD Board of Trustees meeting, which provided a Zoom link for people who could not be at the school to stream the meeting.

Proposition A on the May 1, 2021 Cumby ISD Special Election ballot would be for improvements to and construction of academic facilities. Essentially, the $7.34 million bond would fund construction of new high school facilities, allow for renovation to convert the current junior high/high school building into an intermediate/middle school campus and safety renovations at the elementary building, including renovation of the cafeteria. Portable buildings would also be removed.

The $7.34 bond would include $660,800 in elementary additions, including for a new secured playground, secure entry points, address drainage concerns, add sidewalks and canopies, and enlarge and renovate the cafeteria. Another $224,000 is budgeted to convert the junior high/high school into an intermediate campus with interior renovations and an additional eating space. A new high school with labs and career and technical education facilities, driveways and parking area is budgeted at $5,280,800. Another $1,097,600 is budgeted in Proposition A for a new metal agriculture shop building that has more space than the current facility as well as needed ventilation; and $78,400 is budgeted for additional renovations.

“This bond is focusing on addressing current safety and security and future growth and development of our students,” according to Cumby ISD Superintendent Shelly Slaughter.

Proposition B would be for an athletic facility, specifically a new $600,00 finished track. While listed separately on the ballot, if approved, Proposition B is contingent on Proposition A passing as well.

Cumby ISD Superintendent Shelly Slaughter

The proposal was devised following multiple years of study and work by and at the recommendation of an advisory committee. It was introduced to the community during a special meeting held Saturday, Jan. 30, in conjunction with a special board of trustees meeting. The facilities committee met again after the community meeting to discuss concerns expressed and discussion from the meeting, and recommended the plan which voters will determine during the 2-proposition bond election on May 1.

The proposed 2021 bond construction and renovation takes takes into account potential future growth for the district. Renovations and new construction could occur while students remain in current facilities without a disruption to education, the Cumby ISD officials noted during the Jan. 30 community meeting.

Currently, the school’s tax rate is $1.14. If passed, this 2-proposition bond proposal will raise taxes to either $1.43 or $1.46, depending on projects chosen.School taxes would increase either 29-cents per $100 property valuation if only Proposition A were passed, or by 32-cents if both Proposition A and Proposition B are approved by voters on May 1.

A $1.43 school tax rate would increase the school taxes on a home that costs $100,000 to $18.13 monthly or $217.50 annually, while a tax rate of $1.46 would increase the school taxes on a $100,000 home by $20 monthly or $240 annually.

School officials emphasize that voter approval of one or both of the options l on the May 1 2-proposition bond election ballot would have no affect on the school taxes for citizens age 65 or older who have a homestead exemption application filed with the local appraisal district. Their taxes would continue to be the same rate they were frozen at, unless the property owner makes significant improvements to their home which would increase it’s appraised value, unless the property’s value decreases, then the rate would be filed accordingly.

Passing a bond in May, instead of waiting should allow the district to take advantage of historically low interest rates, down as low as 2.14 percent, for repayment of the bond fund over the next 30 years. Depending on the interest rate, tax appraisals, the amount of the bond proposed, the tax rate could potentially be lower than projected, and likely would go down at some point, as other debts are paid off.

Cumby ISD Trojans

School officials noted that if neither of the 2-proposition bond projects receive voter approval in May, “Cumby ISD will continue to put students first and take care of student and program needs with our current facilities.”

According to Slaughter, preventative maintenance plans are in place to help extend the life of our buildings and facilities in the event the bond does not pass.

“We will also continue efforts to ensure the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff. Projects will be prioritized for these things and completed when possible based on funds. As growth continues, if there are no classrooms available, more portables will be considered. Currently, the elementary is over capacity, with students in portables, and high school enrollment is increasing annually but does have room left for some growth. As student enrollment continues to increase – 25 students this year and 7 to 11 students each year over the past two years, we will begin the process of the purchase and replacement of some portables if the bond proposal does not pass. Also, some classes will have an increase in student to teacher ratio. Classes could go from 18 to 1 to 24-plus to one,” Slaughter stated.

Trustees at the Feb. 11 board meeting also approved a resolution to retain Haynes & Boone, LLP, and Powell Law Group, LLP (formerly Powell, Youngblood & Taylor, LLP), to provide specialized legal services in connection with the issuance of public securities by the district (the bond). The two law firms have more than a decade of experience handling issuance of public securities in Texas. However, the district won’t pay any legal fees unless a bond passes and is issued.

Preliminary rendering for a Cumby High School campus that would be constructed as part of a $7.34 million bond, presented during a community meeting conducted Jan. 30 during discussion about the potential bond proposal.

Author: Faith Huffman

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