PORTLAND, Texas — Portland residents who headed to the polls on Election Day saw more than just names on the ballot. There was also a school bond election on the ballot.
Click here to see how residents voted, with updates throughout the night
While originally this election was intended for May 2, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed for the November 3rd election instead.
3News spoke with Dr. Michelle Cavazos, superintendent of the Gregory-Portland Independent School District for a breakdown of their 2020 bond package.
Breaking down the bond
The bond package totals at $107,740,000. It is broken up by two propositions:
- Proposition A amounts to $98,486,333, and would include the building of a new early childhood center, the addition of Ag science classrooms, safety and security upgrades, maintenance upgrades, equipment for the new Career & Technology Education facility, a new all-purpose practice facility and more.
“Proposition A, has one of the big pieces of it, is the new construction for an early childhood center which would be brand new for our district to provide a space for our youngest learners, our 4 and 5-year-olds so that we can further comply with House Bill 3 and offer them full-day pre-Kindergarten, which we are currently offering, but this would give us a space where we can pull all of our 4 and 5 year olds along with their teachers to really provide specific programming and specialized programming for our youngest learners," said Dr. Cavazos.
- Proposition B amounts to $9,253,667 and is focused on technology, including the acquisition of new technological equipment and upgrades.
"Proposition B is with technology and will provide a one-to-one device for all of our students in our classrooms as well as replenish instructional technology tools for the teachers to use for integrating technology in the classroom," Cavazos explained.
"These devices will be in the classrooms and reduce the wear and tear or even reduces the responsibility for students to have to bring it back and forth between home and school, and it also allows us to keep them updated with the latest software updates and keep them fully charged each day when they’re in our classrooms."
For a complete breakdown of all projects proposed as well as the projected dollar amounts for each, click here.
How were the needs for these items assessed?
According to Cavazos, a facilities planning committee, made up of community members, district stakeholders and staff members researched the growth projections and future needs of students and employees.
"We did get input from our community members and from our Board of Trustees as well as looking at what's the growth in our area of enrollment, as well as the industry and programming, so that we can well-equip our students for future careers here in our community."
What is the financial impact of this bond package?
Should the bond package pass, according to Cavazos, therewould be no tax rate increase. A surge in industrial growth in the area is a big reason why.
In a release provided by the district, in a regular meeting back on August 17, the G-PISD Trustees voted unanimously (7-0) to approve a recommendation to decrease the total tax rate for 2020. Additionally, in 2019 and 2020, the district had made an adjustment to the Interest & Sinking (I&S) rate while decreasing the total tax rate.
"Two years ago, our tax rate was at a $1.35 and with tax compression, through House Bill 3 and then this industrial growth, we as a district have reduced it, and our board just approved earlier this fall that we’ve decreased our tax rate to a $1.21, so with or without the bond, that tax rate will stay the same at a $1.21, and should the bond proposition pass, that gives us the permission to access those dollars from that industrial growth to support these projects and the propositions," Cavazos said.
"The soonest that we would be able to access dollars would probably be the end of January should this pass, but we will have been planning for each of these projects - actually in the works, looking at should this pass, what can we get started?"
NOTE: Texas House Bill 3 requires that every school bond proposition include language indicating a property tax increase. See below:
According to Cavazos, the impact and reach of the 2020 bond goes beyond the realm of the district community.
"In my short time here, I've seen the number of people who graduate from our district and maybe go away for college, or go across the bridge to college, and they come back to raise their own families because of their experiences they've had here," Cavazos said.
"So, why people should care, even if they don't have children or grandchildren in our schools, is because we’re preparing our kids to come back, and in order to stay in our community in order to support all of us."
To learn more about the G-P ISD 2020 bond and who to contact for more information, click here to visit the district's bond website.
Early voting runs from now through Oct.30th. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23. Election Day is November 3rd.