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Jim Ned, Trent, Merkel ISD hoping for major school improvements in bond elections

Jim Ned, Merkel, and Trent ISDs ask voters to pass bonds

TRENT, Texas - A $20 million proposition for Jim Ned school district in Tuscola is garnering fierce criticism.

After assessing the condition of all schools in the district, a master plan was drawn up that would close the Buffalo Gap and Lawn schools and build a combined elementary school in Tuscola.

Some people say closing the elementary schools would cause a loss of identity in those small towns.

"We will lose our elementary school in both Buffalo Gap and Lawn and they will all be joined together in Tuscola, and we sense that by doing that we will lose the community relationship that we've had," said Doug Carpenter, who is against the consolidation.

Jim Ned CISD Superintendent Bobby Easterling hosted an informational meeting outlining what the new school would provide.

"It is important that all students have good learning environment and safe learning environment," Easterling said. "The appropriate size of the classroom, appropriate equipment makes things a whole lot easier to teach in."

Easterling said, if passed, the $20.8-million bond would raise property taxes about $180 per year on a home in the district valued at $100,000.

However, Jim Ned isn't the only district hoping voters will approve school improvements.

Trent and Merkel ISD's also have bonds up for vote. Trent ISD has separated their bond election into three different propositions with hopes that that they will all pass.

Merkel ISD said the district needs to tear down parts of the campus completely and start from scratch.

"These buildings were built 1949, 50, 51. They didn't even have air-conditioning then," Merkel ISD Superintendent Bill Hood said.

The passing of a $14 million bond would mean a brand new facility for elementary and intermediate students in Merkel.

"It's just trying to put a Band-Aid on a bad problem is what we've got now," said Hood.

He said the structural defects, outdated technology and above all, safety concerns, are reason enough to vote "yes."

"We read about these horror stories every day and we want to have a safe secure up to date environment for these children to learn in," said Hood.

The average taxpayer in a $100,000 home would end up paying about $267 more in taxes every year for the new facility.

"Just buy one less pizza a month or one less meal out and help provide these kids with a quality facility," Hood said.

Down the road, Superintendent Greg Priddy of Trent ISD is hoping voters approve big changes in their district as well.

"We want the best for our kids and we want them to have everything they need to succeed," Priddy said.

Three propositions, totaling $1.7 million, aim to do just that. Priddy said they were ranked in order of importance, though he hopes all three will pass.

The first, for $550,000, would provide two new buses and a technology upgrade. Priddy said the server they currently operate with cannot handle all of the district traffic. Oftentimes, one part of the school is asked to power down so another part can log on.

The second, for $375,000 would resurface the track, enclose the bus barn and improve the playground. It would provide new turf around the playground area, where Priddy said the school has seen some children injured on sharp rocks.

A third, for $770,000, would pave roads around the school, replace the football turf and install softball field lights.

If all three pass, it will cost the average taxpayer $37.52 more a year.

"Keep in mind what it's really for," Priddy said. "It's for the kids. It's for keeping this community going and because we've all said in this small town that if you lose a school your community usually has a hard time making it. And the school is a vital part of this community."

Election day is Nov. 5.

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