Ten people addressed the board Monday, touching on a variety of bond-related topics including the facility needs at particular schools, the business community and partnerships and unanswered questions.
Tom Mullins, president and CEO of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tyler Economic Development Council, said he supports a bond issue especially one that includes a technology and career center.
Mullins said the chamber and council would do its part to inform voters about the importance of the project should the district call an election.
“I think getting young people exposed to a number of different career opportunities earlier in their educational process can solve a lot of problems,” he said.
Phil Burks with The Genesis Group, a Tyler-based software and technology company, said he would support a bond package as well.
He said he favors the potential business/education partnerships that could come from the proposed Advanced Technology and Career Center, saying that could be a great benefit for students.
“I myself am a product of this type of environment,” he said of a career/technical school. “That establishment was there to teach me a skill, to teach me a work ethic as well as give me an education. So I support this 1,000 percent.”
JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America – We the People, said the district still has not answered questions and concerns raised by her organization. She cited five ways in which the Grassroots members think the district’s long-range plan is incomplete.
She said these issues should be addressed and presented to the public before a bond election is called. These issues include cost estimates for projects, a timeline for redrawing attendance zones, the reason for creating fifth- and sixth-grade centers and evidence that annual operating costs will decline with new buildings.
In that covenant, certain academic goals were outlined and Ms. Fleming said the district needs to keep those goals in mind and track data related to them.
“While we all would like to have wonderful buildings for our kids to be in … we believe it is a moral obligation of our community to make sure every day when we look at ourselves in the mirror that we will have clean consciences that we have done everything we can … to give every child in this district equal opportunity to success once they leave Tyler ISD’s care,” she said.
TISD parents addressed needs at individual campuses.
Molly Crocker, who has two kids at Dixie Elementary School, said the district needs to build a new Dixie. She cited poor security, exposure to the elements, portable buildings and a small cafeteria/auditorium among the reasons.
Robert E. Lee parent Brenda Stratton said if students are to remain competitive in a global economy, they must have better facilities.
“If we want to continue to attract and retain top talent in Tyler, Texas, we’ve got to have better schools,” she said.
Tim Huskey, father of two Owens Elementary School students, said a new southwest Tyler middle school should be the first priority along with a career and technology center. He said by doing this the district will build trust in the community and show people that it can build a secondary school the right way and for less money.
Board President Michelle Carr said board members will weigh a lot of factors as they make a decision but the approved long-range plan will be the foundation.
“We’re going to continue to receive input from the community,” Mrs. Carr said, adding board members likely will contact their constituents and she planned to contact some community leaders.
She said the Advanced Technology and Career Center along with the a new middle school in southwest Tyler and a new Boulter Middle School are three projects that board members agree should be a part of an initial bond package. She said the challenge now is deciding what, if anything else, should be included.
TISD has until Aug. 21 to call a November bond election and the board is scheduled to meet on Aug. 20.