Midlothian ISD Accepts Bond Committee Recommendation, Let The Voters Decide

Slide with text of bond committee stats

2023 May Election- Midlothian Residents Will Vote On Three Propositions

At Monday evening’s MISD School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Fey presented the results of the bond committee to the board and recommended the board move forward with what the community recommended. MISD Board President, Tami Tobey, was not in attendance.

Dr. Fey presented a slide show to illustrate the bond committee’s findings with a breakdown of three propositions, Prop A, B, and C.

slide with tex of MISD bond committee results

Earlier in the evening, Midlothian resident Lisa Healy spoke urging the school board to vote no to all bonds. She said the state was working to support education and the infrastructure for it. However, during her bond committee presentation, Dr. Fey countered that to her knowledge no bill introduced would replace the bond system.

When going over the Propositions and what was listed, she mentioned not everything was added, providing a Performing Arts center as an example of an item left off. Dr. Fey’s recommendation was for the board to move forward with what the community recommended.

text showing tax rate impacts of 2023 MISD bond

Dr. Fey said, “Before you make a motion, I want you to be mindful, that there is no better democratic process, and we all want that in Ellis county than taking information, and recommendations from your community, and then the community gets to decide.”

Fey continued, “Your community has done that work for you, the recommendation is Prop A, B & C. The hard work is gonna be the community voting on what they want. I really believe the committee of 135 people is unprecedented here. They spent a lot of time with this and not everyone agreed. We want to make sure we support and honor the work of the committee.”

blue background white text of MISD scenario 3 Prop A

text of scenario 3 Prop B

Text of MISD 2023 Bond Scenario 3 Prop C

MISD Board Ask Questions, Share Their Concerns

Trustee Pena said, “ There’s a famous quote by a very famous conservative that said ‘the scariest words are, I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you.’ He asked do I want to wait on the state to come help me? No! So, my vote, when it comes time is for Prop A, B, and C when we make a motion.” He also clarified that he was not against redistricting in whole, but wants new buildings so they can address redistricting to be done properly.

Vice President Vineyard shared he was quite surprised by the committee’s recommendations and did not expect all three props to be recommended. He pointed out the board doesn’t have anything to do with the committee’s recommendation. The committee prioritized the needs and put them in order.

“I have to respect what they brought to us and can’t help but recognize they represent the community and it is a democratic process.” He pointed out that while it wasn’t what he would expect, the voters should make the decision, not him and not the board.

Trustee Gonzalez brought up the tax rate. He said, “When the tax rate was set, bond capacity was a driver for the tax rate.“ Looking at the amounts of the propositions he noted it would put the district over its bond capacity. He said times are uncertain and he worries about overcommitting when it comes to debt.

Dr. Fey countered that she’s not concerned about the decisions about incurring more debt, because the alternative is taking funds away from M&O, which takes away from the kids in very large portions, and worrying it would take away from teacher salaries, student programs, etc.

She gave the example, that just to give a 1% raise in this district costs right at $1 million. If the district needs just a couple of portables in a few years, the cost would be about $1 million.

Gonzalez noted he’s looking at the Propositions from a needs vs. wants view, and favors Proposition A. He recognizes the need for land, renovations, etc., but would like to look for more creative ways to shelter students accordingly. He clarified that he’s a big proponent of student safety, but wants to do it right, do it properly, and in a cost-effective manner. “$48 million is very scary for me,” he concluded.

Dr. Fey said she’d had numerous conversations and one of the most interesting conversations was that it could be possible for engineers and students to come up with a way to lower the cost. But, she wants the community to make the ultimate decision on safety with their vote.

Trustee Jessica Ward said, “I worry about the total debt because if all three pass, it doesn’t matter if it’s called in 2024 or not called until 2030, we’re still in debt, and that debt is going to get bigger, and bigger and bigger. And at what point do we say enough is enough, let’s just go for what we need what our real issues are at this moment. If all three passes we will have a tax rate, we’re going to be setting the tax rate in a few months, how Is that supposed to look, I worry about the noise. I am willing to leave it up to the citizens, but it’s against my opinion to go for anything other than Prop A”

She noted there are only three things in Proposition A that she feels the district needs.

Dr. Fey, “I don’t think this is the hardest decision we have to make, the hard part is leaving it to the voters. Ultimately we are darned if we do, darned if we don’t” people are going to be unhappy when we walk out of here. Pushing it down the road won’t solve anything, costs will continue to go up. I don’t see any relief in sight with that. Ultimately, I want to honor the work our committee did, I want our Board to honor it.”

In November 2022, No School Bonds Passed In Ellis County

Gonzalez pointed out that in the November election, no school bonds in Ellis County passed. He says that’s the community telling school districts to spend money wisely.

Dr. Fey said, “We have an obligation to the citizens that worked on this in planning and preparation for the future. We’re going to need a new elementary school, we have campuses with parity issues for fine arts programming, especially elementary. Frank Seale middle school needs a complete overhaul, student experience matters.”

Trustee Teague said, “ I look at the slide that shows the thousand hours worth of work. The growth projections, the time to get a bond ready, and then design time, etc. I don’t believe that we can wait on A at all… I trust the committee’s work on B & C. I’m not going to tell anyone how to vote. I do respect the work that they’ve done and it would be really hard to get a group that large to spend that amount of time if they feel like we won’t listen to their recommendations. I support A, B, and C.”

Pena said, the Board shouldn’t have anything to do with it, “this should be the will of the people.”

Mr. Dillow, “I think this is a community issue. I think there’s enough people out here that need to put their two cents in on where they want to put their money. We’re never not about the safety of our students, our faculty, and our staff. It’s just we want to be fiscally responsible with those monies. We have to move forward with letting y’all decide.”

Ms. Teague made the motion for the bond election, 5-1 with Gonzalez voting against it. Board President Tobey was not in attendance.