Hoping for a better result the second time around, Elkhart Independent School District trustees decided with a 5-2 vote to call a second bond election during a called meeting Monday night.

The $7.3 million bond election — to be held May 13 in conjunction with the district’s regular school board trustee election — is more than $2 million less than a failed $9.4 million bond package the board proposed to taxpayers in December 2005.

The board was presented with the slightly tweaked version of the previous bond package during a meeting Feb. 13, but decided to hold off on calling the election until all trustees could be present for its final approval.

“Even though the bond failed in December we still have growth needs — those needs have not gone away,” EISD Superintendent Dr. Glenn Hambrick said. “So the community facility task force met to develop a more acceptable bond package to present to the taxpayers.”

The $7.3 million bond proposal was very similar to the previous bond package in that it still included a $7 million elementary school facility in Phase I. But this time around the district would invest a total of $1.1 million from the district’s fund balance to the project instead of the $500,000 fund balance investment previously proposed.

The task force also made several cuts to the Phase II proposal including renovations to the middle school, air conditioning and roof replacement at the high school, parking improvements and kitchen equipment.

What remained in the Phase II proposal was the addition of four classrooms and a home economics lab at the high school as well as renovations to the campus’ administration offices.

“We felt like (the projects cut) could be paid for from the fund balance as funding is available,” Hambrick said. “But we did not feel the high school renovations could be removed due to expected student population growth.”

According to information presented to the board by Hambrick, the new reduced bond proposal also would cut the tax rate from 33 cents per $100 of property value to 29 cents per $100.

“If we receive Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) funding, that tax rate would eventually drop to 13 cents,” Hambrick told the board. “And the state is looking at guaranteeing EDA funding for school districts in the upcoming special session.”

One of the greatest dilemmas the board has faced in calling a second election is one of timing.

Due to a state legislative timeline, in order to receive state EDA funding the board must hold the election in conjunction with the May 13 trustee election and must call the bond election by March 12.

“Because the legislature will reset the EDA funding in 2007, we have to pass a bond and set the tax rate for that bond this August in order to qualify for that funding,” Hambrick said at the Feb. 13 meeting. “If we wait for a November or later election, we will have to wait until 2009 to receive the EDA funding.”

Trustee Steven Ham, who along with trustee Curtis “Beaver” Franklin opposed calling the election, voiced several concerns about calling a bond — the main one being that not enough time has passed between bond elections.

“I know that Elkhart is growing, but it is only five months between elections,” Ham said. “I don’t want to see the bond killed again and I’m not sure it would pass.

“It might be more favorable for us to wait on the legislature and see what they do in the special session (on school finance).”

Hambrick addressed the issue of the upcoming school finance session, stating that the way the school receives funding might not change, only the source of the funds.

“The last idea I heard was that they would reduce property tax rates from the $1.50 per $100 of property values to $1,” Hambrick said. “All that means is that the state with get the money by some other means.

“It doesn’t look like it would effect a district’s debt service rate — only the maintenance and operations rate,” he added.

In other business, the board:

• VIEWED estimates for the purchase of a two-classroom portable building for the elementary school campus. The board will make a final decision after more research is completed by the superintendent.

• APPROVED the renewal of all EISD administrator contracts.

• APPROVED Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Policy Update 77.

• APPROVED the proposed 2006-07 school calendar with an Aug. 21 start date and the addition of a Memorial Day holiday.

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