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Oct 19 2018

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Bond election deliberation continued at second town hall

By Freddy Jimenez

editor@sbnewspaper.com

 

San Benito residents, parents, faculty, staff and district officials all gathered on October 15 at the San Benito High School Cafetorium to further deliberate the details of the upcoming Bond Election, which include three proposed projects totaling $40 million.

Among the amenities being considered are a multi-purpose sports facility at $3.5-4 million, an aquatics center at $5-5.5 million, and a performing arts center with a hefty price tag of $30-31 million. This was the second and last Town Hall to be held, whose purpose was to present information as well as allowing district officials to receive feedback from the community in real time.

Much like the previous Town Hall, first came a presentation, or a summary, if you will, on the proposed Bond Election, the costs of the amenities, their intended purpose and such. However, in place of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman, who presented this information segment at the previous Town Hall, was Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Hilda Rendon. The second section consisted of Dusty Traylor, Managing Director with RBC Capital Markets, the district’s financial adviser, presenting statistics and figures such as the district’s current existing debt, interest figures, tax rates, and estimated bond capacity. Traylor at one point said that since San Benito is a property poor district, the State pays for a significant portion of SBCISD’s debt service, estimated over 50 percent.

The third section of the Town Hall was meant for community feedback. Here, residents and anyone else in attendance had the opportunity to share their opinions on the Bond Election in general. School board members made sure to establish that feedback could pertain to the Bond Election only.

The first to express themselves was Horace Thompson, who first inquired about potential builders. He then asked about remaining monies and wondered what would occur in case the Bond Election proposals don’t ultimately cost the estimated amount. Citing Dr. Carman, Thompson inquired whether remaining Bond Election funds would be used for improvements upon other schools. Traylor responded that the $40 million is the maximum the district can receive, meaning, if the district attains estimates that provide for the projects to be constructed to the dollar amount less than the $40 million, there’s nothing that says the district has to be issued the total amount. Traylor also said that if funds do remain, then by law they must be used on capital investments and not salaries. Thompson then asked there were locations for the propose amenities. Rendon replied that for the multi-purpose, the board was considering high school grounds behind the stadium score board. For the performance center, there is a possibility of it being next to the expressway near Dr. Garza, now STEAM Academy, and the Freddy Fender Tower. The aquatics center is being considered to be placed around the same location or near Veterans Memorial Academy grounds.

The next to speak was Johana Garza, who asked if the public would be able to use the facilities or if they were strictly for the school district. Rendon said that current facilities are open to public use, therefore, the news ones will be as well. She also mentioned that the district is working on a partnership with the City of San Benito to bolster some of that attraction.

The following resident was Mary Salinas whose first concern was regarding swimming lessons to be offered as part of the new programs coming with the aquatics center. She wondered if swimming programs would be taught for all grades rather than one, citing her second-grade nephew could participate with his swimming team throughout the year, but couldn’t once he became a third grader. She hopes that the new aquatics center brings with it inclusive programs for all children.

The fourth to speak was Rosalinda Garcia, who inquired on the remaining usage of Bond Election funds for other projects. Citing Harlingen’s $1.5 million performing arts center and comparing to SBCISD’s potential $30 million performing arts center, she asked the board if they really think this is in the best interest of the school district. Rendon responded by saying that the $40 million estimate is as is because it is the figure that would allow the tax rate to remain the same. She further said that the Bond Election Committee purposed with exploring the needs of the community narrowed down their long list to the three items presented, which they felt were needed in San Benito. Garcia also wondered if the facilities would be used by the public and not just athletics? Rendon replied yes, that is the intent.

 

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.sbnewspaper.com/2018/10/19/bond-election-deliberation-continued-at-second-town-hall/

1 comment

  1. Voter

    False advertising on signs, in where states taxes won’t go up that is a lie when you vote it says taxes will go up on the upcoming years. Any attorney out there who’d like to sue for false advertising on the school district please reply. San Benito school district board Fix what we have, make a new high school, correctly use the funds that are coming in for the benefits of our students, not your pockets

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