Calhoun County ISD $65M bond passes

The proposed $65 million Calhoun County ISD bond project passed Tuesday.

The money will build a new middle school, renovate other county schools and improve Sandcrab Stadium.

"We are obviously excited and know that we have a lot of work in front of us," said Billy Wiggins, Calhoun County superintendent. "I'm appreciative for those in our community who supported CCISD and our kids."

Claycomb Associates will design the new middle school and stadium renovations, and Rawley McCoy will work on the other renovations, Wiggins said.

"We are looking to start as soon as possible," he said, noting they expect to break ground once school is out for the summer.

The roofs, plumbing, windows and electricity will see necessary repairs this summer, Wiggins said.

Improvements will add 17.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to the debt service tax rate for 10 years, said Wiggins. The current debt service tax rate is 7.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is dedicated to pay off the 2007 $22 million school bond project.

The bond will increase taxes on a $110,000 home, the average value of a home in the district, about $192.50 a year before exemptions.

After exemptions, the increase comes to about $10.65, Wiggins said.

Members of a capital improvement committee, which was formed at the end of 2012, visited each campus and recommended necessary improvements to the school board. Their plan totaled $47 million in improvements.

However, the board sent the bond proposal totaling $65 million to county voters.

The increase comes because the board proposed building a new Travis Middle School campus.

"The Calhoun school bond vote was close, with a 476-vote difference, which is very encouraging," said Robert Willmann, a San Antonio attorney who recently moved back to Port Lavaca. "But it is a sad day for Calhoun, Victoria and DeWitt counties as the bond debt total for the three counties will now be around half a billion dollars plus interest.

"Since public schools are a public service and not a commercial business in which debt should generate more income, all the school bond debt does is make future school revenue less."

Sandra Witte, an attorney who served on the capital improvement committee, also served on the political action committee, Calhoun Proud, which was created to encourage county residents to vote for the bond proposal.

Witte said that when the middle school was constructed, it was designed as an open campus for high school students, something that doesn't work well with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

"It's money well worth it," she said. "Our students in Calhoun County deserve the great facilities that will generate from the bond money."

Bob Turner, Port Lavaca city manager, said he is happy the bond passed.

"The future of Port Lavaca is its children, so it is very important to educate them.

"Some will pay more money in taxes," he continued, "but the advantage is good in the long term - these are exciting times for Port Lavaca."



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