Bonds will help local school districts with growth

Saturday is Election Day for several Central Texas school districts and cities. Though the date may have escaped the minds of many, as is often the case in nonpresidential elections, it is an important one with important local issues on the ballots. They range from selecting the next mayor to deciding on school bonds and choosing local school board members.

As Central Texas continues to grow, more voices need to be heard to help guide how our communities — and in particular, school districts — take shape.

To address the issues of growth, several school districts are asking voters in those districts to support bond packages, including the Round Rock Independent School District, which has presented its taxpayers the largest bond package in the district’s history at $572.1 million.

The district was right to split the bond package into three propositions. In doing so, they’ve given voters options. Residents who show up at the polls can choose the most urgent, which we believe are represented in Propositions 1 and 2, or all three. That approach permits voters to support propositions that best align with their priorities and pocketbooks. If all three propositions pass, the average homeowner could pay an additional $2.23 per month — or $26.74 per year on an average valued home of $290,000.

That is a worthy investment that addresses Round Rock’s ongoing growth.

With funds approved by voters in 2008 and 2014, the district has constructed nearly a dozen schools in the last 10 years to help alleviate overcrowding. Even so, the district’s facilities have not kept pace with its growth and maintenance needs. There is a lot riding on the quality of Round Rock schools, which is among the factors that gives it bragging rights as among the best places to live in the U.S.

Consider that the Round Rock district – with a current student population of 48,100 students — is expected to grow to almost 52,000 by 2027. Current overcrowding means many students must attend classes in portables.

Building new schools won’t solve all of Round Rock ISD’s issues. The district still must address a backlog of maintenance at aging schools, upgrade outdated technology and make much-needed improvements to athletics facilities. As we’ve reported before: Grisham Middle School athletes train in shed without water or air-conditioning.

So, what would $572.1 million get Round Rock ISD?

Prop. 1 — the most expensive of the three propositions at $381.6 million — reflects the district’s highest-priority needs. The proposition includes proposed funding for the construction of a new northeast elementary school, various capital renewal and replacement projects, as well as districtwide technology, safety and infrastructure updates.

Prop. 2 addresses innovation and growth at a cost of $133.6 million. Most notable is the $25 million that would go towards the construction of a career tech high school. The proposed open-enrollment school will focus on helping students receive certifications in engineering, technology and skilled trades, such as HVAC and plumbing. This is a forward-thinking initiative that would provide students who graduate from high school with skills they could take directly into the Central Texas workforce or to college. Prop. 2 also includes proposed funding for expansions as several campuses.

Prop. 3, at $56.8 million, speaks less directly to current academic needs of students and more to the potential opportunities that come with outside partnerships. Prop. 3’s proposed funding for a $22 million indoor aquatics center gives us some pause. District leaders have indicated that the construction of an aquatic center could provide opportunities for a partnership with the city of Round Rock or the YMCA. However, that initiative still is in the talking stages. Again, the district was wise to provide a separate proposition for this item, so voters can decide.

The propositions don’t contain a whole lot of glam for voters. But every item — yes, even an aquatic center — has the potential to bring value to the Round Rock community, including many Austin residents. With 40 percent of Round Rock schools located within the Austin city limits, the investments made will be felt beyond Round Rock.

Yes, off-year elections can be boring — but they are where crucial local decisions regarding schools, city government and tree ordinances are made. We urge voters to get out, vote and be heard.

For more complete Central Texas election coverage, visit

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Commentary: Let us test then, you and I
Commentary: Let us test then, you and I

You are 15. You have been held against your will, writing, reading and bubbling answers for almost five hours. Naturally enough, you ask yourself, “Why is this being done to me?” Since you are taking a test, let’s put the possible answers into a familiar format: A) You are experiencing a modern version of the Spanish Inquisition....
Opinion: Educational fraud continues

Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just...
Herman: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ignites war of words with N.J. governor
Herman: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ignites war of words with N.J. governor

Once again, a GOP leader, through the use of bellicose rhetoric, has talked us into a war of words with a foreign power with nukes and a hard-to-understand language. Let us hope this does not escalate into a war of weaponry. You’re thinking President Donald Trump vs. North Korea (which has nuclear weapons). I’m writing about Gov. Greg Abbott...
Letters to the editor: April 24, 2018
Letters to the editor: April 24, 2018

Re: April 22 commentary, “Castillo: Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage.” The creator of the saying “the law is what the judges say it is” might also have agreed that it is what five judges say it is — until five judges change their minds. So it is with history. The struggle to integrate...
Opinion: Remembering Barbara Bush, grieving mother

My mother and Barbara Bush were contemporaries. Despite coming from very different backgrounds — daughter of a Kansas farmer and daughter of a New York City businessman — they had a common experience, a very human link. It’s a sad connection that I suspect also has many a woman feeling fondly toward Bush, who died Tuesday at 92. Both...
More Stories