Abilene ISD panel recommends $87 million bond election for school improvements

ABILENE, Texas - Voters could soon be asked to approve an $87.7 million school bond package that would include tearing down current facilities and building new ones in the Abilene Independent School District.   

Abilene ISD board members were presented a recommendation from the Master Facilities Planning Committee during a special meeting late Monday.

Passage of the bond would result in homeowners paying less than $50 more per year, officials said, resulting in a cost of about $4.07 a month for a average household with a $92,000 home.

The committee spent more than 250 volunteer hours since June, meeting and collecting data, assessing and planning the bond proposal.

The consensus among the committee is the district has deferred maintenance that's added up over the years and needs to tear down current facilities and build new ones.

"Our recommendation is for a November election for a bond issue in the amount of $87.7 million," Master Facilities Planning Committee Chair Jeff Arrington said.

The committee recommended the money be spent in phases, based on the schools with the greatest needs.

"Early November we hold a vote," Arrington said. If the measure passes, he added, "Six months later, the community can see construction underway."

Officials said a November election will allow the district to lock in a lower interest rate.

One by one, members of the citizen committee approached AISD's Board of Trustees with emotional requests to move forward with the recommendation.

"We're seeing these auditoriums with black goo hanging down or you sit down and you've got a scrape on your leg because the seats are falling apart," former AISD teacher Lois Jameson said.

"Seeing the windows caulked shut and then seeing the hallways and first thing I thought was a fire hazard," committee member Sandra Minnick said. "What would these four babies do?"

Committee member Mike Dunahoo said Abilenians have "been through a recession. We survived. The time is now to take care of our kids and our teachers."

"At the end of this process voters have to make the decision as to whether or not those schools are re-purposed," Abilene ISD Superintendent Heath Burns said.

Trustees are expected to vote on the bond election this coming Monday, Aug. 26. That will be the last day the district can call for an election for November.

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