Chapel Hill ISD superintendent responds to community concerns about bond proposal
POSTED: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 7:19pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 10:39am
Chapel Hill, Texas (KETK) — A group of parents in Chapel Hill are voicing their concerns over an upcoming bond election, and Wednesday KETK spoke to Chapel Hill ISD Superintendent, Dr. Donni Cook, about the parent's concerns.
The Chapel Hill Independent School District is asking taxpayers for $31.2 million.
According to the district's website, the bond proposal includes renovations and upgrades for all four schools and other upgrades throughout the district. Which Cook says is due to growth in enrollment, need for expansion to career and technical programs, and safety upgrades to the district schools.
Tammy Humes, who has a third grader in the district, tells KETK the school officials are not properly informing parents about the proposed bond.
However, Dr. Cook says she has provided detailed information to the public regarding the bond proposal, in the form of powerpoint presentations, pamphlets, detailed brochures, and via the Chapel Hill ISD website (http://www.chapelhillisd.org/). Cook also says she has planned comunitiy meetings to address the concerns of the parents and all of the information has been available since Septemeber 20.
Humes says the bond will add a bigger burden on taxpayers in the small district. Cook says she's been transparent about the 14 cent tax hike many people in the school district will incur and says that the school district is actually one of the largest in East Texas.
"They're indicating that the school district is $20 million in debt," said Humes."That's almost true. We are $20 million in debt on principle. What is not included in that is the $14 million in interest that is also due on back bonds."
Cook explains that currently the Chapel Hill ISD school district is sitting at 30.2 Million dollars in debt (princial and interest). If the bond passes the district could potentially be more than 60 Million dollars in debt—if the Chapel Hill district sells all of the bonds proposed, 31.2 Million. If they don't sell all of the bonds, that money will not be used.
Cook says they are still working on their end to inform anyone who has questions, work out estimated construction costs, and other information in the proposal. Cook says the bond will be an investment for the Chapel Hill school district's future, and was called due to the expanding student body.
Humes tells KETK, on September 18, she submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking for a line item spreadsheet to see where every penny of the bond will be spent.
Cook says Septemeber 25, the districty replied to all three of the inquires Humes requested and put them in the mail for her to view, which is before the legal FOIA deadline,10 days.
There will be an upcoming community meeting detailing all of the bond information, and there will be a question and answer session to provide any additional information the public may need. That meeting date/time is still being determined and will be posted on the Chapel Hill ISD website: http://www.chapelhillisd.org/
Early voting for the bond will began on October 21st, and voters will decide on the issue, November 5th.