Editorial: We endorse the TISD bond, Bob Westbrook for city council

Published on Friday, 21 April 2017 13:01 - Written by

It has taken a lot of work and a number of years, but Tyler school officials have regained the trust of voters - something they discovered was lacking in 2010, when an ambitious bond package was narrowly defeated.

The superintendent at the time of the 2010 defeat blamed the “political climate,” but it was something else - trust.

But in recent years, that trust has been rebuilt, largely due to the efforts of Tyler Proud, a community organization led by parents - not district officials. These parents and business leaders made a commitment to the community. Excellence in the Tyler school system would be pursued on a dual track - better educational attainment and better facilities, at the same time.

The group’s efforts led to the successful passage of a $160.5 million bond package in 2013 by a nearly two-to-one margin. Tyler voters approved it 63 percent to 37 percent.

Those results were close to what voters said in 2008, when 65 percent voted in favor of the $124.9 million bond issue, while 35 percent voted against it. The bond package in 2004 also passed by even better than two-to-one: 68 percent voted for the bond issue, with 32 percent voting against.

What those kinds of results demonstrate is that Tyler isn’t anti-taxes, as some have claimed. In fact, voters here overwhelmingly approve raising their own taxes when school officials make the case clearly and competently.

And that’s why we endorse the current $198 million bond proposal that would renovate both of Tyler’s high schools.

The plans are sound. Both schools will be multistory and come in at 450,000 square feet and have a 2,750-student capacity.

Each campus will have new facades and new learning spaces, including interactive classrooms, science labs and collaboration areas. The project would eliminate the use of portable buildings that have been used at John Tyler for more than 30 years.

But Tyler Proud’s work won’t be finished. We commend that group for coalescing around the 2013 bond election, and staying together even afterward, in a commitment to improving education for Tyler students. As then-Tyler Proud president Mark Randall said on Election Night in 2013, “We know there’s a lot of work ahead for the community and TISD. We’re going to continue to work with the community and the district to have a positive voice in all aspects of improving education here in Tyler ISD.”

That’s even more true now. If this bond package is successful, most Tyler schools will have been rebuilt or renovated. At that point, there will be no reason to not focus exclusively on educational attainment.

TYLER CITY COUNCIL, DISTRICT 5

The choice is clear in the Tyler City Council race to replace Council Member Mark Whatley, who is stepping down due to term limits. Business leader Bob Westbrook has shown his commitment to making Tyler a better place to live in his countless hours of service to the community, from his tenure as chairman of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce board to his work with the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

We commend his opponent, Alan Lizarraga, for his willingness to serve Tyler, and we would urge him to follow through by offering to serve on any of the many boards and commissions that are always in need of eager volunteers.