Letter to the Editor

Signed by School board trustees: Paul Uranga, Romy Ramirez, Angie Gonzalez, Sandy Urias, Leticia Hernandez and Rocio Onate

Dear Editor

In an effort to ensure the citizens of Van Horn have accurate information in reference to the bond, this letter is in response to the Letter to the Editor written by John Clark and publish on March 17, 2016.  Mr. Clark retrieved his information and figures from the website www.texastransparency.org.  We encourage the community to go on to the website.  Once on the website, after a few clicks, a screen pops up with a Disclaimer that basically tells the reader the information on the website is not completely accurate.  The following quotes can be found in the “Disclaimer.” “The Comptroller’s office provided every district and charter operator the opportunity to verify or correct its reported data prior to publication, but did not independently verify campus data. These data are provided as is and as of the date indicated, and may not reflect school construction costs, school enrollment or other data as of any subsequent date. The Comptroller does not control or guarantee the accuracy , completeness or currency of any such data.”

Now with that being said, The CCAISD School Board has done research on the data provided in the letter.  Resources used to verify correct data included published newspaper articles, directly calling or emailing the superintendents, and other websites that publish school bond elections information.

Of all of the districts used in the chart provided by Mr. Clark, only 3 of those districts passed bonds to build a new school from the ground up.  All other districts and bonds were used for renovations, adding classrooms, buying buses, etc.  Below is the correct information on each district. Copies of the documentation can be viewed in the Superintendent’s office.

• Borden County ISD – (Enrollment 256) passed a bond for $25 million in 2009 to build a new K-12 campus, softball and baseball field. (Source – Superintendent email)

• Bryson ISD – (Enrollment 246) Passed a bond for $13.3 million in 2010 for renovation, demolition and construction.  The district called for another bond for $3.5 million in 2013 for renovations to athletic facilities, new classrooms and buses. (Source – News Channel 6 website, Texas Bond Review Board website, school district bond brochure, Bryson ISD district newsletter)

• Fort Elliott ISD – (Enrollment 147) Called the superintendent and he stated a bond for a new school was passed before he arrived in the district.  He did not know how much the bond was for or what was done.  He has been with the district since 2007.  The district did pass as bond in 2011 for $5 million for school renovations and buses.  The district has also called a bond for May 2016 for $5 million for more renovations and buses. (Source – Phone call to Superintendent Jeff Dyer)

• Fort Sam Houston ISD – (Enrollment 1,542) Emailed the superintendent and she stated the district has no taxing ability because they are considered a special purpose district because their school boundaries are within a military installation.  They work annually with a Congressional representative in Washington DC for continued funding through the U.S. Department of Education. (Source – Superintendent email)

• Loraine ISD – (Enrollment 155) The district called for a $12 million bond in 2012 to build a school to house 150 students.  The school would be built with 68,000 square feet.  Note:  Mr. Clark stated CCAISD only need a school with 71,500 square feet for 500 students. (Source – Article written by Ethan Fowler posted April 21, 2012)

• Martinsville ISD – (Enrollment 375) Emailed the superintendent and he stated the district has passed a $3 million bond in the last 10 years to pay for an additional wing of classrooms to the elementary. (Source – Superintendent email)

• North Zulch ISD (Enrollment 351) The district called a bond in 2010 for $2.3 million.  No documentation was found on the purpose of the bond.  In 2012 the district called for another bond for $950,000 to upgrade technology, fix heating/air conditioning, fix a roof, and buy buses.  The district also spoke about refinancing a 2006 bond series that had been used for a high school.  In 2014 the district called yet another bond with 2 propositions.  One proposition was for $1.9 million for construction of a new track and the second proposition was for $400,000 to purchase new school buses. (Source – Madisonville Meteor News, Eagle Local News website, district bond brochure, The Municipal Advisory Council of Texas and The Lone Finalist)

• Overton ISD – (Enrollment 541) The district called for a bond in 2007.  We were not able to find documentation to determine if the bond passed and the purpose for it.  The district passed a bond in 2009 for $6.7 million for a new gym, athletic field, and additional classrooms. In 2010 the district called for another bond of $2 million.  Documentation for the purpose of the bonds was not found. (Source – Henderson Daily News, March 10, 2006 and November 14, 2007, Strategic Partnership Inc. website)

• Plains ISD – (Enrollment 464) According to the Lubbock Avalanche Newspaper, in 2010 the district passed a bond for $31 million to build a new K-12 school building.  In 2013, the districted passed another bond for $17 million to build a new gym, new fieldhouse, new tennis courts and renovate other athletic facilities. (Source – Lubbock Avalanche Journal Newspaper February 28, 2013, school district bond powerpoint presentation)

• Tenaha ISD – (Enrollment 579) The district called for a bond in 2013 and we still waiting on a response from the superintendent for more information. (No Sources found)

• Yantis ISD – (Enrollment 370) Spoke to the superintendent and he stated the district has not passed a bond since 1994. (Source – Phone call to Interim Superintendent Peter Running)

There is only one district that closely resembles CCISD in size, and that is Plains ISD.  The bond passed to build a new school for the district was $31 million back in 2010.  For additional information, Stanton ISD passed a $45.9 million bond for renovation and additions to the high school, middle school, elementary and new softball and baseball fields in 2014.  Forsan ISD also passed a $24 million bond to build a new elementary in 2014.  As a frame of reference, McCamey ISD has 645 SF (square feet) per student, Plains has 452 SF per student and Iraan has 525 SF per student.  The new school for CCAISD will have 347 SF per student.  The school board has done the research on the cost of building a school that meets the needs of our students and that will last another 50 to 60 years.  The new campus will have the capacity to house over 600 students.  Lastly, there are countless articles on the different costs of construction based on the area.  According to fastgrowthtexas.org, the costs of construction across Texas is different in different regions of the state.  Van Horn is considered a rural community, therefore, construction cost will be higher than other parts of the state. The cost of demolition and asbestos removal will be high because of the amount of asbestos contained in the buildings.   

As elected trustees, we have an obligation to the students of this community.  As a board we need to know what direction we need to head and on May 7th the community will make that decision.  During the March 21st school board meeting, Mr. Clark stated he would spearhead the drive for a new school if the school board did more research.  We look forward to Mr. Clark helping us with the drive to build a new school.