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Early voting begins Monday for school bond issue

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, April 21, 2018
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Gym Replacement

GYM REPLACEMENT – The biggest item in the bond package is a new gym to replace this one built in 1951. The gym has multiple issues, including low lighting, lack of seating, inefficient mechanical and electrical equipment and failure to meet current federal or state ADA requirements, according to the school. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For the second year in a row, voters in the Alvord school district will have a choice to make on a school bond issue.

This year’s bond will look much different from the bond that failed last May by a nearly 4-to-1 margin.

“The committee that worked on this proposal, we purposely asked some people we knew were opposed to the last bond to serve on the committee this time,” said Superintendent Randy Brown. “I think that’s why we see a much more modest, conservative proposal. … That was the intent, to put together a proposal that is truly focused on the greatest needs.”

This year’s $5.1 million bond package is focused on the oldest building in the district – the elementary gym built in 1951.

New Look

NEW LOOK – This conceptual drawing shows the location for the new gym, classrooms and parking lot included in the bond issue.

The 67-year-old gym, which seats 250, would be replaced by a building that would include a new gym with 450 seat bleachers, a lobby, small concession area and separate public and student restrooms. The new facility would allow community youth sports groups to use the gym, Brown said.

It would also include changing rooms for students.

A new 1,200-square-foot music room would also be built to replace the current room that shares space with the gym in the current building.

Also, a new 900-square-foot classroom will be built. Brown said the plan is to move the pre-kindergarten class currently in a building originally built as a cafeteria in 1961 into the new classroom space. The 1961 building would then be repurposed into meeting and testing space.

The new gym and classroom spaces would also be connected to the existing elementary, meaning students wouldn’t have to go outside one building to enter another.

“There is no permanent connection (currently), and so for security reasons, it will be a permanent connection. It will be safer,” Brown said.

The project would include the removal of two metal buildings currently utilized for storage behind the current gym. The new gym would be built in that location, meaning students would still use the current gym until the new one is finished. The old gym would then be demolished, and a new parking lot would be built on the site.

Funds are also included in the bond for that work.

If the bond passes, the new gym and classrooms are expected to be ready for the 2019-2020 school year.

When the bond election was called, the district estimated it would require a 15-cent per $100 valuation tax increase. However, Brown said this week that due to an increase in local property values, the new estimate is an 11-cent increase.

Early voting starts Monday and will continue on weekdays through May 1, at Alvord City Hall. Voting times are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for extended voting hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. both Tuesdays. Election day voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 5, also at Alvord City Hall.

Applications for voting by mail should be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Applications should be sent to Patience Barnes, P.O. Box 63, Alvord, TX 76225-0063.

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Along with deciding school board and city council seats May 5, some voters will be casting ballots on tax issues and gaming regulations.

Here’s a brief look at the items on some local ballots:

  • Boyd Municipal Development District – Boyd voters will decide on creating a municipal development district and moving a half-cent of sales currently used for property tax reduction into the district to fund capital improvements. MDD funds can be used for a variety of economic development projects including industrial, manufacturing and retail development, recreational and/or community facilities, park improvement, streets and related improvements. The city’s sales tax would stay at 8.25 percent. Currently with the half-cent dedicated to property tax reduction, additional sales tax brought in by the city requires a decrease in the city’s ad valorum taxes, limiting revenue growth.
  • Newark Municipal Development District into extraterritorial jurisdiction – Newark voters approved the creation of a municipal development district in May 2017. The district has collected $10,289.07 since November. It brought in $2,134 in February. The city is looking to expand the MDD into its ETJ and collect the half-cent of sales tax.
  • Wise ESD No. 1 tax election – The Wise County Emergency Services District No. 1, which funds and operates the Boyd Fire Department, is asking voters to approve a maximum 10-cent tax rate. The district’s current rate is 3 cents per $100 evaluation. The district plans to only levy a 6-cent tax for the next two years if it passes. With the increase, the district hopes to keep its full-time chief post along with increasing the number of part-time paid staff. The tax increase would also pay for equipment. Since its inception in 2001, the district has operated with the same 3-cent tax rate.
  • Bridgeport and Decatur bingo – Bridgeport and Decatur are holding special elections to allow charitable bingo in their cities.

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