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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 To the editor: As I understand it, our school taxes are going up, no matler what. We can either pay for permanent suucmres with bond money or we can pay for portable buildings funded with money that should go into classroom educa- tion. I don't want my taxes going up -- no one does. But it appears inevitable, so I vote to use the money wisely. I'm voting for the bonds. Dianm Aston Mountain City Too much debt Letter to the Editor: FACT: Teachers are underpaid as compared to other area fast growth school districts. The more money we devote to debt, the less that is available to address the 17.8% teacher turnover rate in this district. FACT: We hired one new staff member for every six new students last year. Only 51 of the 114 new hires were teachers. Classroom instruction should be our first priority. FACT: Since the 2001 bonds, we've not met growth predictions advertised by the district. We are 900 students short now and we need anoth- er 2,000 students next year to meet the projections used to plan the 2001 bonds. We've grown by less than 600 students this year. Now they tell us, the "most likely growth scenario" is we will double enrollment in five years. This will require compounded annual growth of over 13%. We grew by less than 7% this year. FACT: We've grown by 1,200 stu- dents since the last ($89 million) bonds two years ago. If we need between $89-$105 million for each addition of 1,200 students, for each new student, we will need $83,000 in new bond debt! No matter how badly we "need it," we can't afford it. FACT: "Practical capacity" is an invented tenn. When actual historical enrolknents are considered and with the construction now underway, we will have capacity for another 5,000 students without more bonds -- eight years of growth based on 600 new stu- dents a year. FACT: The "financial advisor" only gets paid if the bonds sell. Wall this same financial advisor be allowed to be the only bidder on the bonds this time too? FACT: Defen'ing bond debt ser- vice payments makes us incur more debt than we can really afford. If growth will continue as projected, escalating debt payments on existing debt will make it more difficult to afford future bonds. Bryce C. Bales Manchaca Concerns: County hiring 'mistake' should be reversed Alternative: Letter to the Editor: It takes a bit for politicians or gov- ernment officials to surprise me these days. However, recent actions by our Hays County Commissioners' Court have me dumbfounded. It would be nice if elected officials could be trust- ed to do the right thing, but the recent creation of the new post of "county manager" with an accompanying salary of $90,000 convinces me that our commissioners are playing untold mischief on the residents of Hays County. What in the world were Judge Powers and Commissioners Bumett & Molenaar thinking when they voted to violate both their own hiring directive and established county personnel poli- cies? All Hays County elected officials and department heads have been oper- ating under a directive not to create any new jobs or give any pay raises, until after the salary survey contracted with an outside personnel film is com- pleted in mid-February. After creating the new post, they granted a thirty-three percent salary increase to the director of enviromnen- tal health when they chose him to fill the new job. They were so eager to have this new position that they used contingency funds reserved for emer- gencies to fund the salary increase for the rest of the year. Not only does this action disregard the feelings and thoughts of the taxpayer, but it also impacts other county employees. It does not matter what the results of the salary surveyyields. Expectations for huge salary increases across the board have now been raised to unattainable levels at the expense of the Hays County taxpayers. The bud- get is now broken and taxes are sure to be raised. We were expecting the commis- sioners court to be "managed like I run my own business" which was Jim Power's campaign slogan. Thanks to the commissioners' court for another broken promise. "Do not ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity?' This is a quote from Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynmann. I believe this reasoning to be the cause of this recent public rela- tions disaster committed by commis- sioners' court. But regardless of the motivation, this action should be rec- ognized as a mistake and should be reversed as soon as possible. Mike Cox President, Hays Republican Club W'lmberley Could bond proponents be responsible? Dear Editor: It appears that someone is tearing down the yard signs of citizens voicing their opposition to the school bonds which will be presented to the voters on February 22. Shame! Shame! I wish to put two questions before the citizens of our community. Could proponents of the bonds be responsi- ble? If so, will the tax money we dole out if the bonds pass be handled with the same immaturity and irresponsibil- ity as are evidenced by these juvenile acts of trespassing and vandalism? Darrell Fojtasek Kyle Bad timing and no choices Dear Editor: Bad Ttrning: HCISD has adequate facilities for the present student enroll- ment and for the next several years. Current and recent expansion projects have provided capacity for an addi- tional 3,000 or more students. Additional capacity at this time is unnecessary. School funding from the state is far from settled and daily we read about dropping the final "Robin Hood" plan and developing a new plan. We have no knowledge of what the final result will be and how it will impact HCISD. There is some growth in the are but there are also many families struggling with the down economy and job layoffs. There are many foreclosures in the area and many families are in very difficult financial circumstances. This is not the time for HCISD to add $150.5 million to our debt. No Choice: The all or nothing bal- lot is just a way to include projects that do not meet the immanent need stan- dard and wotfld be the leas t likely to be approved by voters. With all the rhetoric from the school district about community input, the ultimate com- munity input is denied. The ballot does not provide an opportunity for the citi- zens to decide what is needed and what is not needed. These two items are part of the reason I encourage a no vote on the 2003 School Bond Election. Wanda Graham Kyle I'm voting FOR Dear Editor: There has been a great deal of dis- cussion regarding the cost to the tax- payer of the current Hays CISD bond proposal. The Hays School Board has been forthright in their worst-case tax projections in order to avoid the "stick- er shock" that accompanies some bond packages. Lost in the discussion on the bond issue is the cost to the taxpayer should the bonds fail. Our growth is real. Twenty new subdivisions in Kyle, a 3,600-unit development in Niederwald and 3,200-unit in Buda are real. The current wave of elemen- tary children making their way through the system is real. There appears to be only two solutions to the overcrowding of schools if the bond fails: busing and portable build- ings. First, busing of elementary stu- dents would have to occur. Imagine a kindergarten child catching the bus at 6:00-6:15 a.m. to make his/her way to a school not in his/her neighborhood, only to return home an hour after the end of the school day. This does not make sense, and it violates the neigh- borhood school concept we adopted. It costs $2.50 per mile to operate a Hays CISD bus, so this quickly becomes a very expensive proposi- tion. Second, portable classrooms would have to be purchased. Portable buildings cost about $60,000 each. Given our accelerated growth, using portable buildings in the Hays CISD is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. For example, the district would need to purchase 15 new portable buildings to handle the current growth- for this year. The approximate cost of these slrucanr would be $900,000. Given the current property wealth in the district, a penny increase on the tax rate generates about $130,000 of tax revenue for the school district. The impact on the current tax rate would be 6.9 cents to pay for portable buildings alone. Add the cost of additional bus routes at $2.50 per mile aad it could easily be that the current tax rate would increase by ten cents or more. So we can raise taxes 10 cents each year to build more temporary portable buildings and buses or we can add 5 cents per year for three years to build permanent schools. The choice for me is clear-- I'm voting FOR. Sincerely, Rebecca Hatch Mountain City Make an informed YES vote Dear Editor: I am a volunteer on the 2001 Bond Advisory Committee (BAC). 2001 Bond money has been spent as promised unlike 1995 Bond money. 2001 Bond projects have been man- aged responsibly unlike 1995 Bond projects, Because of 1995 Bond mis- takes, the School Board appointed volunteers to a 2001 BAC to serve two years. The BAC's charge was to serve as a communication link to the community, Board and HCISD Administration concerning the appli- cation of bond money to proposed bond projects. Administration pro- vided the BAC access to architects, demographer, financial advisor, administrative personnel, and the pro- gram manager. I attended the 2003 Bond oppo- nents' second meeting. My plan was to listen objectively to the questions and concerns raised. There were few questions asked. Items in the 2003 Bond were not debated. Planned facilities were described as 'Taj Mahal.' Hays High School students would agree that roofs and air circu- lation systems that work and walk- ways that protect them from the ele- ments would feel like a 'Taj Mahal' compared to what they have now. A former high school principal stated that "kids getting wet is an absolute non-issue. It only rains hard two to three times a year." A former board member stated "of course kids have to walk outside. Keeping kids inside brings up other issues?' There was a brief moment of sanity when this same board member stated "no deny- 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 instruction I  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 bond 7 and 10 additional cents for the bond passed just two years ago. 8 Support c uality education 2003 BONDS! ing celmin schools are overcrowded. No denying growth will come..." There was no discussion about these facts. Consider this. If the 2003 bond fails, maintenance costs to repair existing facilities will soar and porta- bles will be purchased. Where do you think this money will come from? Taxes will still increase to pay for the tremendous maintenance and portable costs. The growth problems can then be addressed in a reactive mode in two years at tomorrow's increased construction costs. Tax dol- lars spent on maintenance and porta- bles will have been wasted and none of it went to instruction. The objective to provide adequate classrooms for both students and teachers began with the 2001 bond. The 2003 bond is necessary to con- tinue planned improvements and additions at campuses throughout the district. The BAC prepared a 2001 Bond Status Report. Get a copy of it, ask questions, get the facts, and make an informed YES vote. Cyndie Holmes Mountain City Not about the bond issue letter to the Editor: City of Kyle's water problem is a concern for a vast population both seen and unseen. Let's see who they "embarrassed" with their stance of no water conservation planning. The citizens of Kyle who elected and hired individuals with no insight of future consequences. Plum Creek subdivision and their water planning. Hays County Appraisal District and City of Austin's rainwater collec- tion programs. Xeriscape speakers and clubs across the Southwestern U.S. HCISD and AISD school chil- dren who are taught to conserve water in their school gardens. PEC and their customers who are encouraged to have xeriscaped land- scapes. Most nurseries who sell xeriscap- More Letters, next page Bond Debt per Average Daily Attendance Texas Bond Review Board, 8131/01 $25,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $5,ooo $o %%.\\;%.. 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. 9: Convert Barton Junior High to a Transitional Campus for 9th grade students. This will meet 9th grade needs up to 2007-08. 9:0 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 .9:0,, 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 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 alterations. 10,13,14,15 DOCUMENTED $OUR(S: (1) State Compll C'vle Keet Strayhom, School  Watch List, updated 11113/02, (2) Bond P.ew Bootd. as of 8/31/01 (lat data available). (3) Official StatcmlmL 2001 Hays CISD bond prolx , 4/161, pg.27. (4) SHW Hays CISD 2001 Bond Program Br0chttfe. (5) Hays CISD Enmllmt Bopo, 12/'2/02. (6) Hays CISD Facilities Needs Assrasmmt, 2003 Bond Propor. (7) Aantin American Star.ann, 11/29/02. (8) Faciliti Subcoffalliltee of the Hays CISD 2 Boed Task F0tce, Executive Sunmmry, 11/5/02 meeting minutts. (9) Hays CISD Demographic Update, Match 2002, Most- Likely Growth Scan0. (t0) 2001 Hays ClSD  Conmlitl - School emollmcnt capacity. (11) Hays High School Master Plan. (12) Hays, Lehira Academy @ Hays. (13) News aad Views, Nov. 2002. (14) Hays CISD Hislolical Enrollnt 1967.2002. (15) Utilize tlently  portable c at targeted elementary schools, consider past high enrollments. *PoL adv. provided by C"itizms foe 'ble Edtctai0n; Box 221; Mchaca, IX. 78652. Vote Against on Feb. 22