Prairiland ISD voters on May 1 will determine whether the school district can invest in itself to serve the needs of current and future students. That’s because the district is looking to voters to approve a $7.5 million bond package that will — amazingly — not cause a tax hike.

Plans call for the addition of seven classrooms at Blossom Elementary with several classified as storm-certified. A multi-purpose room is in the plans to be used as an inside playground for younger students not involved in physical education classes for older students that take place in the gymnasium. At Prairiland Junior High, plans are for eight classrooms.

During an informational meeting in early March with voters, both architects and school officials stressed that the $7.5 million bond election would not increase property taxes but would be funded by increased tax revenue from solar farms already built in the district. Although the district limited taxable value on the maintenance and operations side of its tax rate, there is no limitation on the interest and sinking, or debt side, of the rate.

“We’ll have over $1 billion in added value for at least two years,” Ballard said, sharing a graph that showed bond payments will be structured to pay down principal substantially during the next five or six years while solar farm property values remain high, and then payments become smaller as those values decrease over the years. “That’s why we are excited; that we can build these classrooms without any cost to you guys.”

It’s not often a school district can invest millions of dollars in itself without that cost being passed on to property taxpayers. This opportunity is made possible by Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code, which is allowing school districts to work with renewable energy providers to capture funds that will stay in the district rather than sending that money to the state for its Robin Hood approach to school funding.

Supporting Prairiland’s $7.5 million bond is a smart move that will pay dividends for current and future students of the district. Don’t hesitate to support it on election day, May 1.

Klark Byrd

The Paris News Editorial Board publishes editorials on topics of local relevance on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

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