White Oak ISD OKs bond proposal for new high school, other items

White Oak ISD OKs bond proposal for new high school, other items
Longview News-Journal/Michael Cavazos
The School Yard
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 11:04am

White Oak residents may be asked to consider a 34-cent tax rate increase next May as school trustees agreed Monday to move toward building a new high school.

Trustees unanimously accepted a recommendation from a facilities steering committee to propose a bond election to build a new high school, as well as a new fieldhouse and tennis courts, updating the middle school and increasing cafeteria space at the elementary school. Should the school board officially call the election in February, the price tag is not expected to expected to exceed $25 million.

“This is basically what we said was our target amount that we are looking at,” Superintendent Mike Gilbert said. “As we do this process, if there is something in there and we have to bump it up a little bit, then that number may go even higher. ... We don’t have a final work-up from an architect or from a civil engineer. We are at the very beginning of all of this. This tells us what are parameters are.”

Gilbert said prior to the meeting that one of the primary concerns of the high school, built in 1975, is that it was not ideally designed for security. The central office causes visitors to walk through much of the school to check in. Modern schools are traditionally built with offices near the front, primary entrance, and visitors typically must enter the office to check in before receiving access to the rest of the school.

If school board members choose call a bond, it would held in May.

If approved, the interest and sinking tax rate would increase from 7 cents to 41 cents per $100 valuation. That total would be added to the district’s current maintenance and operation rate of $1.17 per $100 valuation for a total tax rate of about $1.58 per $100 valuation.

At that rate, a homeowner of a property valued at $100,000 would pay $1,580 in property taxes to the district annual with no exemptions, up about $410 from the payments that would be due on the same property if the bond failed.

The last bond election held for the district was in 1999.

While trustees did not discuss where a new high school may be built, Gilbert said they would still need to decide whether it would be built on the district’s current campus on White Oak Road or new property would have to be bought.

“We are considering two options. One option is to create a site development here on campus, but it will be a self contained site ... it is either going to be a site somewhere here on the existing footprint, or we would have to purchase a piece of property and build it somewhere else,” Gilbert said.

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