The Victoria school board unanimously approved a decision Friday to add four propositions to the Nov. 2 ballot.
During a special called meeting, the board approved the ballot propositions, its annual budget and its tax rate.
Board member Margaret Pruett said the community and board need to support their teachers and students. A bond and the new tax rate will do just that, she said.
“We have to do what’s best for our kids,” Pruett said.
The propositions include a voter approved tax rate election, or VATRE, which will increase the district’s maintenance operating budget by 3-cents, if approved.
The board also approved the addition of three bond proposals. The first bond proposal is a $91-million bond that would address high-priority repairs throughout the district. The second is a $25.8-million bond to construct a new Mission Valley Elementary School campus. The third is an $83.9-million bond proposal to build a new Stroman Middle School campus.
If voters approve the VATRE and the $91-million repair bond only, they will see a $1.189 tax rate per $100 assessed value. If the Stroman bond is passed, voters will see a 6.6-cent tax increase. If the Mission Valley bond is passed, voters will see a 2-cent tax increase.
At a previous board meeting, a community task force presented a proposal that included a 3-cent VATRE and a single bond that would address high-priority repairs in the district. The board went against the task force recommendation during the meeting because of high community support for four propositions, including Mission Valley and Stroman.
Board member Kevin VanHook said the bond goes beyond fixing facilities, but it also fixes the issue of equity in the district.
He said people from the city’s south side call him and express concern for their child and how the schools need to be fixed.
“Equity is what we are going to have to address and have compassion and hope the voters will have compassion, too,” he said. “We have to do what’s best for the children.”
The board also unanimously approved its about $123-million budget for the year. To fund that budget, the board approved 6-1 a $1.1682 total tax rate per $100 of assessed value. Board member Bret Baldwin was in the minority.
The district’s current tax rate is $1.189 per $100 assessed valuation.
Baldwin favored the $.9447 maintenance and operation budget but opposed the $.2235 interest and sinking rate. He is also in favor of putting the bond propositions and VATRE on the ballot, he said.
Baldwin wanted to lower the interest and sinking rate to show the community that the district is being fiduciarily responsible with taxpayers’ money, especially with a bond vote around the corner, he said. The language on the ballot is confusing, and it runs the risk of not passing, but by lowering the I&S rate shows good faith to the taxpayers, he said.
Board president Mike Mercer said the district does not have a trust problem with the community because everything is done openly and with transparency. He noted there is a difference between a lack of trust and people not liking what is being done.
Without a bond, the district will not have the money to fix major problems, Mercer said. The board will then need to look at cutting programs to afford temporary fixes to facilities.
“These needs are critical,” he said. “These aren’t something we’re making up.”