The Victoria school board heard the bond planning task force’s recommendation for a November bond proposal during a special meeting Tuesday.
The proposal looks to include a 3-cent voter approved tax rate election, or VATRE. The funds from the VATRE would go toward teacher and staff pay raises.
“We believe this VATRE is critical for VISD,” bond task force member David Steves said during Tuesday’s presentation.
The task force would also recommend the district place a bond proposal on the ballot. The bond would not increase Victoria residents’ tax rate and would address major repairs like HVAC, plumbing and electrical issues.
“The task force recognizes there are critical infrastructure needs,” task force member Dale Zuck said during Tuesday’s presentation.
The recommendation came from the bond planning task force that reconvened last month. The task force finalized the plan on Monday on the cusp of two community forums. The 32 task force members consisted of community members, district staffers and parents, and it was open for all to join.
One board member asked why the task force opted to forgo the results of the community survey, which was taken during two community meetings last week. The results showed a majority of survey participants wanted to see Mission Valley Elementary School and Stroman Middle School on the ballot.
Zuck, on behalf of the task force, said members of the task force questioned the validity of the survey because it did not fit the discussion that was had in small groups at the two community meetings.
Board member Margaret Pruett said she was grateful for the work of the task force, but she is disappointed not to see Stroman Middle School or Mission Valley Elementary School included as ballot items.
“I can’t stop thinking about Stroman,” Pruett said, teary-eyed. “It’s something to think about because they are not addressed and that school is in bad shape.”
Among those in attendance were about a dozen Stroman Middle School staff members. Some of the staff members wiped tears as Pruett addressed the lack of Stroman on the ballot.
Pruett also noted the growing community in the Mission Valley area, and said without including a new elementary school on the ballot, she is concerned with having enough space for students.
“Moving forward, I would just ask my board members to really think about the recommendation but about our schools and all our needs,” she said.
Board president Mike Mercer said the board needs to consider the community’s lack of trust in the school district.
A common theme seen at the community meetings was the need for more trust in the district. Those conversations were also discussed during the last bond planning task force.
Board member Mandy Lingle said that educating the community is vital with any proposal on the ballot. She noted if the board goes with a zero tax increase bond, that will not be said on the ballot. Legally, the ballot would list the total of the ballot.
An uneducated voter would look at that and assume it’s a tax increase, Lingle said.
“It’s still hugely important for people to get out the information,” she said.
The board did not vote on the proposals, but a vote will need to be made by Aug. 16, if the board chooses to place it on the November ballot.