It’s been four years since North Lamar ISD brought a bond package to voters in hopes of rebuilding the district, and after canceling a potential package in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new package is now in the works.
A Community Advisory Committee that includes parents, teachers, community leaders and a former superintendent along with experts with financial and construction experience has recommended to North Lamar ISD trustees a $49 million bond package that includes five propositions. They include $40.371 million for academics, $1.8 million for school buses, $405,000 for technology, $2.074 million for athletics and $4.2 million for fine arts for a total $48.85 million.
A finalized package will need voter approval because these much-needed improvements come with a price for every taxpayer in the district. While the details of the current proposal are still being hammered out, we can glean what the tax impact may look like from last year’s $47 million proposal. At that time, the bond was expected to raise North Lamar ISD’s property tax rate 19.22 cents from 97 cents per $100 valuation to $1.1622 per $100. The added cost to a $100,000 home in the district would have been $192.20 per year.
District leadership last year opted to drop the bond proposal amid uncertainty of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a responsible decision. Now nearly a year into the pandemic, state data shows this region has been largely financially stable. Meanwhile, North Lamar’s facilities have continued to age.
North Lamar taxpayers, now is the time to contact your trustees to let them know what you will and won’t support. In doing so, keep a few things in mind: Facilities age, and at some point demolition and replacement becomes a more financially responsible choice. Technology updates are necessary every few years — a school district that falls behind here will not equip students with the skills they’ll need to become part of the nation’s workforce. And, as we can see between the current and last year’s bond proposals, if action is not taken now to improve the district, it will cost more to do so in the future.
North Lamar leaders are being transparent with this process. Expect them to tell voters exactly why each improvement is needed and what the alternative may be. Expect multiple informational meetings that include visual aids. While building tours would be optimal, it’s likely not possible during the pandemic.
In the end, the best option will be affordable for taxpayers and in the best interests of today’s and tomorrow’s students.