A major decision looms ahead of folks in Red Oak. A school district bond in the amount of $230.1 million is up for election on May 7.
Not since 2007 has a school district bond election passed in Red Oak, though the last one for $74 million in 2017 failed by only 36 votes. A previous one for $90 million failed in 2006, only to have one for $97 million approved a year later.
Statistics show that Red Oak has grown from a population of 3,660 in 1990 to 13,464 in 2021. The population has increased by around 4,000 or more since the last bond passed.
Nearly all of the schools in the ROISD are close to or at full capacity, officials note.
Among the uses of the funds, should the bond pass, they say are:
- $45 million for work on Goodloe Stadium and the parking area, including new locker rooms, a new press box, adding a lane to the track and more.
- $19 million for a new transportation facility and parking area.
- $38 million for work on the high school, including a new career and technical education building.
- $86.5 million for a new middle school campus
- 28 million for additions at Wooden Eastridge Elementary schools.
- 9.3 million in high school athletic improvements.
As always, there are those in favor and those in opposition. Focus Daily News gave groups leading the charge for both schools of thought (yes, pun intended) to vocalize their logic.
Team Vote Yes
Yes group, led by Bryan Bell, parent and leader of Red Oak H.E.R.E. (Hawks Expanding Resources for Everyone), also former committee chair for ROISD Citizen’s Facility Planning Committee Bell said the group is in favor of the package because Red Oak is at a turning point.
“With all the development and growth that is going on in the communities that ROISD serves, we have to do something that elevates the crowding we already have in the schools and prepare for the growth that is coming,” he said. “This includes creating classroom space, repairing a crumbling stadium, making improvements to athletic areas and making sure the transportation department can get our kids to school.”
Bell said that while they banter with the opposition on social media, there have been no formal conversations for a compromise.
The group is using a variety of techniques to get their message out. These include 500 yard signs out in the community, as well as some larger signs, sharing on social media, most important, Bell said, they are getting out into the neighborhoods through block walking, showing up to community events, and stopping and talking to any and all groups.
“We also host events where people can come together, ask questions, discuss the bond, and get information,” Bell said.
Bell said there is no one single item his group feels is most important in the package. They believe the entire bond package is important.
“All four Propositions are tied into creating well-rounded and career-ready graduates of Red Oak ISD,” he said. “Time in the classroom, as well as in athletics, robotics, or any other extracurricular activity is essential to the development of a child’s abilities in academics, leadership, teamwork, and citizenship.
“Keep in mind that when the Citizens’ Facility Planning Committee developed this package and presented it to the board, they understood that voters may agree with some parts and not with others. We are asking people to vote yes for all four props, but if you do not support one, you can still support the others.”
Bell stressed that the latest numbers from the school district indicate there can be a total of $206 million bond approval without any increase to the interesting and sinking (bond) tax rate. He added that if a person is 65 years or older with a homestead exemption, their property taxes cannot go up, no matter the results of this election, unless they make a significant improvement to their home.
Team Vote No
The It’s OK to Vote NO group, led by activist Amy Hedtke, a Waxahachie resident who has a history of opposing bond elections
Hedtke and her group have a simple message in opposing the entirety of the bond package, “It’s Ok to vote no, Red Oak!” Their main sources of distributing their message have been through Facebook posts, blockwalking and posting signs that read “Vote no on bond$,” emphasizing their reasoning with a dollar sign replacing the “s” on the word bond.
Their biggest problem, Hedtke said, is that this is a property tax increase, something she has vehemently fought in Red Oak and other areas for some time, never mind that she is not a resident.
“Taxes have been too high for decades. If the local taxing entities can’t proactively rein in their spending, cut administrative bloat, and pare down programs to core-curriculum to meet their Article 7 purpose, then it is left to the community to reject more spending and debt till they get their tax burden decreased,” Hedkte said. “If all four propositions pass, the debt level will swell to almost half a billion dollars that the children will have to pay off.”
Hedtke argued the legal bond proposition doesn’t even bind the district to the proposed tax increase.
“It flat out authorizes a tax ‘without limit as to rate or amount.’ And that’s not a gofundme to donate your own portion of taxes, but an authorization to take money from your neighbors,” she said.
Hedtke also emphasized this bond package is full of pork spending. She said the district would have better success if they had packaged this as just a middle school bond and kept it specific in the bond order verbiage.
“I hope residents will vote this down on May 7, and look forward to seeing the turnout at the polls,” she said
Whether you vote yes or choose to vote no, we encourage all of our readers in Red Oak to vote and be involved in the decisions impacting the future of your community. More bond information can be found on the Red Oak ISD website.
Early Voting – April 25 through May 3 (locations and times vary)
Election Day – Saturday, May 7, 2022; Polls 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit the Ellis County Elections website – https://co.ellis.tx.us/312/Elections