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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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February 13, 2003     Hays Free Press
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February 13, 2003
 

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February 13, 2003 Letters to the Niter Page 5 I'm voting FOR winning physicist Richard Feymnann. I believe this reasoning to be the cause of this recent public rela- To the editor: tions disaster committed by commis- As I understand it, our school sioners' court. But regardless of the taxes are going up, no matter what. We motivation, this action should be rec- can either pay for permanent structures ognized as a mistake and should be with bond money or we can pay for reversed as soon as possible. portable buildings funded with money Mike Cox that should go into classroom educa- President, Hays Republican Club tion. I don't want my taxes going up Wimberley -- no one does. But it appears inevitable, so I vote to use the money wisely. I'm voting for the bonds. Could bond Dianna Aston Moun city proponents be Too much debt responsible? Dear Editor: Letter to the Editor: It appears that someone is tearing FACT: Teachers are underpaid as down the yard signs of citizens voicing compared to other area fast growth their opposition to the school bonds school districts. The more money we which will be presented to the voters devote to debt, the less that is available on February 22. Shame! Shame! to address the 17.8% teacher turnover I wish to put two questions before rate in this district. FACT: We hired one new staffthe citizens of our community. Could proponents of the bonds be responsi- member for every six new students last ble? If so, will the tax money we dole year. Only 51 of the 114 new hires out ff the bonds pass be handled with were teachers. Classroom instruction the same immaturity and irresponsibil- should be our first priority, ity as are evidenced by these juvenile FACT: Since the 2001 bonds, acts of trespassing and vandalism? we've not met growth predictions Darrell Fojtasek advertised by the district. We are 900 Kyle students short now and we need anoth- er 2,000 students next year to meet the projections used to plan the 2001 Bad tm g and bonds. We've grown by less than 600 students this year. Now they tell us, no choices the "most likely growth scenario" is we will double enrollment in five Dear Editor: years. This will require compounded Bad Timing: HCISD has adequate annual growth of over 13%. We grew facilities for the present student enroll- by less than 7% this year. merit and for the next several years. FACT: We've grown by 1,200 stu- Current and recent expansion projects dents since the last ($89 million) bonds have provided capacity for an addi- two years ago. If we need between tional 3,000 or more students. $89-$105 million for each addition of Additional capacity at this time is 1,200 students, for each new student, unnecessary. School funding from the we will need $83,000 in new bond state is far from settled and daily we debt! No matter how badly we "need read about dropping the final "Robin it," we can't afford it. Hood" plan and developing a new FACT: "Practical capacity" is an plan. We have no knowledge of what invented tenn. When actual historical the final result will be and how it will enrollments are considered and with impact HCISD. There is some growth the construction now underway, we in the are~ but there are also many will have capacity for another 5,000 families struggling with the down students without more bonds -- eight years of growth based on 600 new stu- economy and job layoffs. There are dents a year. many ~foreclosures in the area and FACT: The "financial advisor" many families are in very difficult financial circumstances. This is not the only gets paid if the bonds sell. WIll time for HCISD to add $150.5 million this same financial advisor be allowed to our debt. to be the only bidder on the bonds this No Choice: The all or nothing hal- time too? lot is just a way to include projects that FACT: Defen'ing bond debt ser- do not meet the immanent need start- vice payments makes us incur more dard and wotfld be the least likely to be debt than we can really afford. If approved by voters. With all the growth will continue as projected, rhetoric from the school district about escalating debt payments on existing community input, the ultimate com- debt will make it more difficult to afford future bonds, munity input is denied. The ballot does not provide an opportunity for the citi- Bryce C. Bales zens to decide what is needed and Munchaea what is not needed. These two items are part of the reason I encourage a no ~.~ m,ddl~O~lIld'lr.~utu.~h~lr~lrlti vote on the 2003 School Bond Election. 'l t e' should Kyle be reversed I'm voting FOR Letter to the Editor: It takes a bit for politicians or gov- Dear Editor: eminent officials to surprise me these There has been a great deal of dis- days. However, recent actions by our cussion regarding the cost to the tax- Hays County Commissioners' Court payer of the current Hays CISD bond have me dumbfounded. It would be proposal. The Hays School Board has nice if elected officials could be trust- been forthright in their worst-case tax ed to do the right thing, but the recent projections in order to avoid the "stick- creation of the new post of "county er shock" that accompanies some manager" with an accompanying bond packages. salary of $90,000 convinces me that Lost in the discussion on the bond our commissioners are playing untold issue is the cost to the taxpayer should mischief on the residents of Hays the bonds fail. Our growth is real. County. Twenty new subdivisions in Kyle, a What in the word were Judge 3,600-unit development in Powers and Commissioners Bumett & Niederwald and 3,200-unit in Buda Molenaar thinking when they voted to are real. The current wave of elemen- violate both their own hiring directive tary children making their way and established county personnel poll- through the system is real. There cies?AU Hays County elected officials appears to be only two solutions to and department heads have been oper- the overcrowding of schools if the ating under a directive not to create bond fails: busing and portable build- any new jobs or give any pay raises, ings. until after the salary survey contracted First, busing of elementary stu- with an outside personnel firm is com- dents would have to occur. Imagine a pleted in mid-February, kindergarten child catching the bus at After creating the new post, they 6:00-6:15 a.m. to make his/her way to granted a thirty-three percent salary a school not in his/her neighborhood, increase to the director of environmen- only to return home an hour after the tal health when they chose him to fill end of the school day. This does not the new job. They were so eager to make sense, and it violates the neigh- have this new position that they used borhood school concept we adopted. contingency funds reserved for emer- It costs $2.50 per mile to operate a gencies to fund the salary increase for Hays CISD bus, so this quickly the rest of the year. Not only does this becomes a very expensive proposi- action disregard the feelings and tion. thoughts of the taxpayer, but it also Second, portable classrooms impacts other county employees, would have to be purchased. Portable It does not matter what the results buildings cost about $60,000 each. of the salary survey yields. Given our accelerated growth, using Expectations for huge salary increases portable lmildings in the Hays CISD is across the board have now been raised like putting a band-aid on a gaping to unattainable levels at the expense of wound. the Hays County taxpayers. The bud- For example, the district would get is now broken and taxes are sure to need to purchase 15 new portable be raised, buildings to handle the current growth- We were expecting the commis- for this year. The approximate cost of sioners court to be "managed like I tun these structures would be $900,000. my own business" which was Jim Given the current property wealth in Power's campaign slogan. Thanks to the district, a penny increase on the tax the commissioners' court for another rate generates about $130,000 of tax broken promise, revenue for the school district. The "Do not ascribe to malice that impact on the current tax rate would be which can be adequately explained by 6.9 cents to pay for portable buildings stupidity?' This is a quote from Nobel alone. Add the cost of additional bus routes at $2.50 per mile and it could community, Board and HCISDing certain schools are overcrowded. Not about the easily be that the current tax rate would Administration concerning the appli- No denying growth will come " increase by ten cents or more. cation of bond money to proposed There was no discussion about these bo d is~ So we can raise taxes 10 cents bond projects. Administration pro- facts, n ue each year to build more temporary vided the BAC access to architects, Consider this. If the 2003 bond portable buildings and buses or we can demographer, financial advisor, fails, maintenance costs to repair Letter to the Editor: add 5 cents per year for three years to administrative personnel, and the pro- existing facilities will soar and porta- City of Kyle's water problem is a build permanent schools. The choice gram manager, bles will be purchased. Where do you concern for a vast population both seen for me is clear-- I'm voting FOR. I attended the 2003 Bond oppo- think this money will come from? and unseen. Let's see who they Sincerely, nents' second meeting. My plan was Taxes will still increase to pay for the "embarrassed" with their stance of no Rebecca Hatch to listen objectively to the questions tremendous maintenance and water conservation planning. Mountain City and concerns raised. There were few portable costs. The growth problems The citizens of Kyle who elected questions asked. Items in the 2003 can then be addressed in a reactive and hired individuals with no insight Bond were not debated. Planned mode in two years at tomorrow's of future consequences. Make an iIifOl~]~l facilities were described as 'Taj increased construction costs. Tax dol- Plum Creek subdivision and their Mahal.' Hays High School students lars spent on maintenance and porta- water planning. YES vote would agree that roofs and air circu- bles will have been wasted and none Hays County Appraisal District lafion systems that work and walk- of it went to instruction, and City of Austin's rainwater coUec- Dear Editor: ways that protect them from the ele- The objective to provide adequate tion programs. Xeriscape speakers and clubs I am a volunteer on the 2001 merits would feel like a 'Taj Mahal' classrooms for both students and Bond Advisory Committee (BAC). compared to what they have now. A teachers began with the 2001 bond. across the Southwestern U.S. HCISD and AISD school chil- 2001 Bond money has been spent as former high school principal stated The 2003 bond is necessary to con- promised unlike 1995 Bond money, that "kids getting wet is an absolute tinue planned improvements and dren who are taught to conserve water 2001 Bond projects have been man- non-issue. It only rains hard two to additions at campuses throughout the in their school gardens. aged responsibly unlike 1995 Bond three times a year." A former board district. The BAC prepared a 2001 PEC and their customers who are projects, Because of 1995 Bond mis- member stated "of course kids have Bond Status Report. Get a copy of it, encouraged to have xeriscaped land- takes, the School Board appointed to walk outside. Keeping kids inside ask questions, get the facts, and make scapes. volunteers to a 2001 BAC to serve brings up other issuesY Therewasa an informed YES vote. Most nurseries who sell xeriscap- two years. The BAC's charge was to brief moment of sanity when this CymUe Holmes serve as a communication link to the same board member stated "no deny- Mountain City More Letters, next page Every dollar spent on debt payments is a dol- lar not invested in our children's instruction. According to the State Comptroller, only 43% of Hays CISD's total expenditures are spent on student instructionI --- this places Hays in the bottom 6% for instructional spending out of the state's 1,034 school dis- tricts. Approving this bond package will divert even more funds from classroom instruction. The average bond debt per student in the state is $5,697. Hays debt per student is $21,552. With another $105 million in bonds, Hays will rank third or fourth in the state in bond debt per student.2 Outstanding debt payments are $9.2 mil- lion this year and increase to $12 million in 2005 before the current $105 million is even considered.3 This takes money away from classroom instruction, including teacher salaries and benefits. For the 2001 bond, the school district pro- jected next year's high school enrollment as 3,1844, but current enrollment still lags at 2,278.5 $45 million of this $105 million bond package is dedicated to a non-exis- tent need for high school capacity.6 The tax rate will increase at least 18%. For the average $135,000 homeowner, this translates to $405 in additional taxes every year --- a tax rate increase of 20 cents for this bond7 and 10 additional cents for the bond passed just two years ago.8 per Average Daily Attendance Texas Bond Review Board, 8131/01 $25,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $5,000 $0 Open Lehman as a middle school, address- ing the need for a middle school in the east- ern portion of the district.8 This will satisfy middle school needs up to the 2007-08 school year. Convert Barton Junior High to a Transitional Campus for 9th grade students. This will meet 9th grade needs up to 2007-08. Retain Hays High School's existing struc- tures, satisfying district-wide 10th-12th grade needs up to the 2008-09 school year and eliminating wasteful demolition and reconstruction of facilities.9,l Bring Academy@Hays under common management at Hays High School, redirect- ing administrative funds to classroom instruction and eliminating the duplication of services from three separate high school campuses. 2 Support c uality education Review proposed "Intemational Elementary School" to expand overall elementary capac- ity. Utilize the extra capacity at Buda and Elm Grove Elementaries to alleviate isolated overcrowding. Needs are met up to 2006-07 with minor altei~tions.1 ,13,14A5 DOCUMENTED SOUR(~S: (I) State Compeller Camle Kcoton Strayhom, School Dimlcl Watch List, updated 11113/02, (2) Texa= Bond Review Board, as of 8/31/01 (late= data available). (3) Official Staten~mL 2001 Hays CISD bond proposal, 4/16KI1, pg.27. (4) SHW Hays CISD 2001 Bond Program Bnr.httre. (5) Hays CISD Enrollment Report, 12/2/02. (6) Hays CISD Facilities Needs Assessmant, 2003 Bond Proposal. (7) Atnain Amea'ic~ Stateanan, 11/29/02. (8) Facilities Sul~a'aniltee of the Hays CISD 2C0~ Bond Task F0,co, Executive Sum=W, 11/5/02 ~g minutes. (9) Hays CISD Demogr~#ale Update, Match 2002, Mcot- Likely Growth Seemio. (t0) 2001 Hays CISD B0od Committee - school emollmcot capacity. (11) Hays High School Master Plan. (12) Hays, Le~ Academy @ Hays. (13) News aad Views, Nov. 2002. (14) Hays C]SD Historical Enrollment 1967.2002. 05) Utilize ie ntly purchmcd portable c~ st targeted elementary schcoIs, consider past high enrollments. *PoL adv lXovided by Citizcos for Restmaible Edumion; Box 221; M~chaca, TX. 78652. p, d"