Driving by the vast Angleton High School campus, it’s easy to think there is more space than our kids could ever need. Trust me when I say this: It’s not.
That’s one of the things I learned as a member of the Angleton ISD bond advisory committee. Another thing I learned: We can fix that, provide a career and technology center that will keep opportunities for our kids on par with those in other districts and do some other needed projects, without increasing our tax burden at all.
When Superintendent Phil Edwards asked me to participate in the Angleton ISD bond advisory committee, I took it as a fact-finding mission. The more information I could gather about the condition of the district’s facilities and proposed bond projects, the more secure I would be in my own vote and the more I could share with our readers.
At the end of the extensive process of facilities tours, school finance studies and debate with the rest of the members of the diverse committee, I voted with the other bond advisory members to recommend a $90 million referendum. Last week the school board took that recommendation and called a bond election for Nov. 5.
I’ll vote for that bond with confidence and urge other Angleton ISD voters to do the same.
The biggest part of the bond proposal is a $55 million Career and Technology Education center. The demand for trades, particularly in this area, is huge, and the district just doesn’t have the space it needs to provide educational opportunities to serve as many kids as deserve a shot in the programs.
The district has a new bond page on its revamped website that includes specifics on those programs, but they include welding, criminal justice, hospitality and culinary arts, audio/visual production, engineering and computer science and agricultural science.
The CTE center will be built on the current high school property, and moving those programs out of the main Angleton High School building will allow that campus to be revamped to needed classroom space. Those renovations make up $5 million of the proposed bond.
A new transportation center makes up a $16 million chunk of the proposed bond package. The committee toured the current transportation center, in the middle of a residential area, and it was easy to see employees there work in cramped conditions that aren’t conducive to optimum efficiency. There is barely enough room to park all of the buses, and getting them in and out en masse must be a real trick.
Other bond projects include energy upgrades, adding a stage at Central Elementary and $3 million for renovations at the softball field. The list of proposed projects was developed before the Ladycats won the state championship. The strength of the program only adds to the will to get this done. Our group viewed both the softball and baseball fields, and the inequity there was stark. Upgrades will include safety netting and fencing, an expanded locker room and seating.
Bond recommendations were not made lightly. Members of the committee asked tough questions, challenged statements and ran district officials through their paces getting them answered.
The result is a bond package worthy of voter support.
And beca use of industry growth at Chocolate Bayou, this $90 million in debt can be raised without increasing a household’s property tax rate. School finance reform legislation championed by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, an Angleton native, actually is projected to result in a tax reduction of 7 cents per $100 in property value.
That’s my take on the bond election. I urge voters to review the data and decide for themselves.