Joseph Thompson

Westwood Independent School District has proposed a $39-million bond issue to replace the district's aging building and redesign its schools to meet today's security and education needs. (“Re-imagining Westwood: Proposed $39-million bond would create 21st century schools,” Feb. 1.)

Members of the planning committee looked at the bond for more than a year, before we decided it was worthy of taking to the taxpayers and community. Once we decided we had our "ducks in a row," each of us started talking to people we know.

No one person in the committee was restricted from discussing anything, especially once we had our facts together. If members of the school board call the bond Monday, it will be filed by next week and voted on in early May. That's more than enough time for any taxpayer to investigate the process and proposal.

Why $39 million?

The decision was to work on every campus that was at the end of its construction life. Parts of the junior high and elementary school were built in the 1960's. The high school is close to that. 

Each school needed some serious attention, other than the primary. So the decision was made to work on each school to build a district that would be stable for the next 40 years.

This was the best way we all saw we could rehab or rebuild each school with the amount of money the state would allow the school to capture. Keep in mind, the state doesn't fund construction or major rehabilitation in general school funding.

Districts have a limited budget. The burden of school rehabilitation falls squarely on the back of tax payers. I don't like the rules. I just try to find a way to work with them to make sure our next generation of kids at WISD have a school that supports them and how they learn, keeps them safe, and makes them proud.

Now, to one of the items I know is important to all of us: Teacher retention. Money to operate WISD is divided between teachers/employees and the operation of buildings, i.e., maintenance and repair, utility costs, etc.

With the rehab of the largest part of the district, there will be utility cost savings, building maintenance savings, and more. That savings will show in the district's operating costs, and therefore, allow more funds to be dedicated to teachers' salaries and, one would think, retention.

Joseph Thompson