On May 11 voters in Midway ISD will vote on a $35 million bond package. The list of items to be covered includeds, ipads for every student, a new athletic practice facility, a new fine arts wing and new buses.
To be sure, the Midway ISD administration is gearing up for a public relations campaign to convince voters taking on an additional $35 million in debt instead of lowering property taxes is a good idea. It will be an even tougher sell considering they're asking for some (perhaps unnecessary) eye-catching, big-ticket items like ipads and a sports facility.
On Tuesday's show I'll get all the answers from Midways ISD superintendent Dr. George Kazanas and the president of the newly-formd Midway Political Action Committee (yep, they've got one of those now) Joe Beard.
But here are some things to consider:
If no bond issue passes, will the district be required to reduce property taxes by law? (The current rate of $1.32 included $.28 for debt service. Since property values are up and more money is coming in, with no new debt there will be excess money.)
Are ipads necessary? Will they really help students learn? (They don't mention ipads by name in their documents, it's called the 1:1 initiative.)
The argument is that because Midway is a property rich district, if it didn't get money from bonds (I&S fund) then it would have to increase M&O expenditures and that, under state funding formulas, would require Midway to send some money to Austin. So it's better to take on debt and keep all the money than increase the M&O part of the budget and send some of it to other schools. The state school funding formulas is currently the subject of a lawsuit. Wouldn't it be better to push to change the funding formula and see what happens with the lawsuit than take on more debt.
According to one board member, this 2013 bond issue might lay the groundwork for a 2016 bond issue. Is debt now a recurring part of the budget that will never go away?