Weslaco ISD trustees call for $160 million bond election

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The Weslaco ISD Administration Building on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Weslaco. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Weslaco ISD trustees unanimously ordered Tuesday a $160 million bond election for November — the largest in the district’s history.

Trustees have been considering a bond push for most of this year, discussing and planning for it at length.

The bond will be split into three propositions on the Nov. 7 ballot. The largest of those, the $140 million Proposition A, addresses school improvements such as roofing, HVAC, restrooms, safety, general campus renovations and technology.

Propositions B and C both clock in at $10 million. Proposition B would fund HVAC, safety upgrades and expansion rel​​ated to the district’s fine arts programs.

Proposition C is aimed at athletics, including stadium upgrades, field house remodeling, tennis court resurfacing and running tracks.

Superintendent Richard Rivera has described a bond as being sorely needed, frequently noting that Weslaco’s tax rate is at the bottom of area districts — where it’ll remain.

“Even though the bond election is $160 million — we’ve never gone that high before at Weslaco ISD — the tax rate will not increase at all compared to the present tax rate,” he said Tuesday.

The district, in fact, anticipates a slight overall tax decrease should the bond pass.

“So if approved, the district — the students — will get $160 million for renovations to their buildings and the taxpayers will get a tax decrease,” trustee Ben Castillo said. The district expects homeowners to pay about 33% of the bond and the state to pay the remainder.

The drying up of federal pandemic monies amid often rocky enrollment outlooks has districts locally and statewide moving toward asking voters for money at the ballot box.

In May, Donna ISD passed a $120 million bond.

Currently, Edinburg, McAllen and Mission school districts are all eyeing some sort of tax rate election to be held as soon as November.

Edcouch-Elsa ISD, meanwhile, is considering another bond push after its $26 million bond package failed by a slim margin last year.