The bond proposal draft as presented Thursday is for $160.5 million and includes six projects: three middle schools, two elementary schools and one career and technology center.
This proposal is something the board and administrators have been working on since the fall when they opted not to call a November bond election.
Superintendent Gary Mooring said the proposal seems to be the best compromise to go forward with at this point.
He said it makes the most sense and would complete the work on the elementary schools, complete three of the four middle schools the district plans to operate as part of its long-range plan, and maintain the existing tax rate.
“That made the most sense at this point in time when you can’t do it all at once,” Mooring said after the meeting.
The public had an opportunity to comment about the draft proposal and seven people did. Three speakers directly supported facility upgrades, while two opposed them, and two did not directly take a stance.
Those opposed to a bond proposal at this time said TISD needs to address issues such as academic underachievement, discipline problems on campus and a lack of teacher support.
“Tyler ISD is not ready for another bond election,” said Rick Eisenbach, who spoke on behalf of Grassroots America — We the People and the “No More Excuses TISD!” Coalition. “We simply cannot afford to put old problems in new buildings. You’ve done that in the new elementary schools, and the system in place is failing these children while they sit in expensive, brand new schools.”
Leslie Strader, vice president of the Tyler Proud organization, cited statistics that show a positive correlation between student achievement and school facility conditions. She said it’s counterproductive to push for student achievement without facilities that would support it.
Board members expressed their support for the package and addressed challenges cited by bond opponents.
Board Vice President the Rev. Orenthia Mason said the district will work to make all facilities safe and address the discipline issues on campus.
“It’s just my belief that we have … work to do,” she said. “Our work is to listen to the citizens and also, (the) citizens have to work with us. We have been listening and we are still listening. And we will address your concerns, and I guarantee you, you will hear from us.”
Trustee Eleno Licea said the draft proposal is fair, equitable and realistic. He said the district can address discipline and academic performance while implementing a bond package.
Trustee Brad Spradlin said the package is strong, reaches all of the community and opens up possibilities for additional programs.
Board President Michelle Carr said she was pleased with the package the board put together. She said the Rice community is thrilled about the remodel and keeping the campus at its existing location. She also said the Moore community supports a new school.
She said she is proud of the board, their hard work and dedication. She said they spend time on campuses, are well-informed about the issues and put much effort into improving the school district.
“I couldn’t be happier with the work you’re doing,” she said to fellow board members.
The board is not expected to address the issue again until the Feb. 21 meeting when they plan to vote whether to call a bond election or not.
In other business, the board officially hired Mooring as the district superintendent. Mooring was named the lone finalist for the position last month after serving as the interim superintendent since August.
He comes to the table with almost 30 years of education experience having served as superintendent of the Hutto and Bishop Consolidated school districts. He also has worked as a deputy superintendent, principal, assistant principal and teacher and held numerous interim and consultant positions with TISD.
His contract is for 2 1/2 years. It gives him a salary of $185,000 with an $800 monthly vehicle allowance, and a $200 monthly electronics allowance. He has no longevity incentive or raises built in to the contract.