Sharyland to hold $35 million bond election

MISSION — In an effort to strike while the iron’s hot, Sharyland ISD trustees voted Thursday to call a $35 million bond election for May 1.

That effort will follow a failed attempt by the district to pass a two-proposition bond election in November that totaled $40 million, allocating $34 million for renovations to Sharyland High School, Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy (SA3), and John H. Shary Elementary and $6 million for the construction of a new district headquarters.

The $34 million proposition failed by 7.78% of the vote, while the $6 million proposition failed by 11.52%.

The board voted to call for the May election based on the recommendation of the long-range facility committee, which supported the election by a two-thirds vote.

The $35 million bond voters will decide on in May would address aging facilities, such as but not limited to, additions and renovations for Sharyland High School and John H. Shary Elementary.

“I think whichever way we go we’re gonna make it work, we’re gonna make it positive for our kids,” Sharyland Superintendent Maria Vidaurri said at the meeting. “Our two biggest issues are SHS and John H. Shary, and we’re gonna take care of that. With some of the numbers I’m hearing here, I think we’ll be able to do those two important things for the kids that we’re serving today and not let this opportunity go — that financially we’re at the best possible point to make these decisions.”

Trustees supported making the $5 million cut to the bond package as a way to pare expenditure wants from needs and to make the bond more palatable to voters.

“I’m still of the consensus that $40 is still a little high … ,” Trustee Alejandro Rodriguez said. “I think the community, as far as the folks that I’ve spoken to, I guess that more than half are thinking it’s too much and that May is too early.”

A favorable financial climate and pending legislation in Austin appear to have prompted the board to try for the back-to-back bond attempts.

At a meeting last month, the board heard a report that indicated more current financial data would mean passing a $40 million bond in May without a tax increase.

The board also heard a concerning report on House Bill 35, which would render bond elections ineffective if less than a quarter of registered voters turn out for the election and would move all bond elections to November if passed.

Trustees expressed concern over how that legislation could impact future bond elections if passed.

“The consensus is that it’s probably going to pick up some steam,” Rodriguez said.

Although Vidaurri said she felt that the district’s desires in the bond package were all needs rather than wants, she voiced support for the compromise and an incremental approach to expenditures.

“Most certainly this board has done a very good job of us going little by little,” she said.

Ultimately, the future of the bond and the improvements it could pay for is up to the voters, Board President Keith Padilla said.

“This is all we’re doing, is putting it in the hands of the community,” he said. “If they want it, and we push it, and whoever is for and against it, it’s going to be the community that’s going to decide, and I think that’s why we were elected, is to go out and represent the community.”


mwilson@themonitor.com