$87-million AISD school bond could face challenges at the polls
Martinez Elementary was built last year with one extra safety measures put into place. It is arguably the safest school in AISD.
A safety vestibule at the front allows office attendants to buzz in who they choose, and all other exterior doors are locked at all times. Cameras monitor the campus, and exterior and interior fencing keeps kids protected.
An $87 million dollar bond that will appear on the November ballot will aim to make all schools in the district as safe as Martinez Elementary. In a vote Monday, the school board voted unanimously to move forward. Now, the decision will remain in the hands of the voters.
Linda Case, Principal of Martinez Elementary, has worked at other schools that she claims were in bad shape, with unsafe campuses.
"Every school is important and every child is important," said Case. "That is a concern we have and that we need to address for every child in AISD.
The district chose one large bond to get all of the safety issues taken care of at once.
In a written statement, Superintendent Heath Burns said, "Very thorough and complete communication must be the goal of the next few months….we will host many, many public meetings…administration's goal is to activate voters, regardless of how they choose to vote."
Professor of political science at McMurry University Paul Fabrizio said getting voters to the polls could be an obstacle to the bond's success, since there are no candidates on the ballot.
"When you have an election like that where people really aren't focused on it, it actually makes it more likely that people who are angry or people who are really strongly in favor of it are more likely to come out," said Fabrizio.
He said with the amount AISD is asking for, the bond could face a serious challenge.
"Based on past history of Abilene voters, when confronting big projects like this, the school board has a hard, hard road ahead of them," said Fabrizio.
Public information officer for the district, Phil Ashby, said AISD considered splitting the bond up into two parts: one for $60 million and one for $19 million, but they worried that could result in only the smaller bond passing.
They did not think it would be fair for only some schools to see those safety improvements, and not others.
If the bond does pass in November, it would raise taxes $48.80 per year, based on the average value of homes in Abilene ISD.
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