Westwood's $40-million school bond plan lost for the second time Tuesday night, 877 to 774. Turnout for Tuesday's election was about double the turnout in May, when the bond narrowly lost by five votes, 410 to 415.
For Westwood Independent School District, it's back to the drawing board. Superintendent Wade Stanford told the Herald-Press Tuesday night he would meet with members of the community advisory committee, probably within a week, to get some direction on where to go from here.
“Obviously, it's not the outcome we had hoped for,” Stanford said. “I'm disappointed for the kids. We tried to emphasize that this plan was done by community members.
“We'll bring the community members back and evaluate how we best move forward. But I will say this: We're going to continue doing what's best for our kids every single day.”
Stanford did not rule out any option, including a third try. “There's a plethora of options,” he said, “all the way from doing nothing to coming back again, and everything in between.”
For now, he said, the district would need to continue to tap the maintenance fund to keep up old and inefficient buildings.
Early voting for the Westwood Independent School District bond showed a narrow lead for the “no” votes, with 528 votes for and 543 against. By the time all the votes were counted, however, the opponents' margin of victory rose from 15 votes to more than 100.
Supporters argued that the district needed to rebuild the district's aging buildings and reconfigure the schools' outdated design. The bond would have funded the district's first major construction project in 40 years. Westwood serves about 1,500 students.
Opponents argued the plan was too expensive did not reflect the wishes of the community. They waged a well-organized and aggressive campaign.
Some parts of the Westwood School district were built in the 1950s. With numerous entrances, the buildings were designed when teachers relied on chalkboards and education was one-size-fits-all.
The all-community advisory committee, including students, worked on the plan for a year. To get ideas, committee members visited other school districts around the state.
The district paid off its last bond issue 21 years ago, in 1998.