As we enter 2013, it’s time to pull the crystal ball out of the closet, give it a good shake and make our annual prognostications for the New Year.

Without further ado, here is our prognostication for 2013:

Waxahachie Independent School District —

We believe it is going to be both an interesting and pivotal year for Waxahachie ISD in 2013.

As we enter a new year, the district’s quest for expansion will continue to drive a movement for a new multi-million dollar bond referendum to expand Waxahachie High School. Due to existing debt, the district is currently being forced to take a hard look at its existing proposal — which also includes renovations and technology upgrades at other campuses. Primarily, the decision will come down to presenting a scaled down version to the board of trustees for their approval to call for a bond referendum, or kick the can down the road until the financial climate improves — both in terms of the district’s borrowing power and the public’s willingness to take on more debt.

Without question, it is a difficult call to make. While there is a need for more classrooms at the high school, we feel the community’s largesse on writing checks for new school construction is rapidly reaching its limit. Even if WISD had the borrowing capacity to fund the full project, we still believe a bond referendum would be a tough sell in 2013. In gaining voter approval for past bond projects, there has been a significant disconnect between district needs and district wants. While the new campuses (including the Lumpkin Stadium renovation) added during the past decade are state-of-the-art facilities, most taxpayers in the district believe the facilities, while grand in stature and capabilities, far exceed both the immediate and near-term needs called for in each of the past bond referendums. When it comes to winning an election, perception is more important than reality. Unfortunately for Waxahachie ISD, the perception among taxpayers is while there has been a need for new facilities, the real needs have been leveraged into a quest for manifest destiny instead of meeting the needs of our students and teachers in a manner we can afford.

Indeed, calling for a bond referendum in 2013 is a decision that will have a far-reaching impact for years to come, filled with the potential for great reward, as well as great risk. Even the approval of a scaled-down proposal that fails to meet immediate needs will have long-term repercussions for the district, its students and the taxpayers who pay the bills. Voters are weary of promises, especially assurances that this will be the last bond we will need for the foreseeable future. We’ve heard that one too many times before.  

While not really a prediction, we hope our prognostication is viewed by WISD as a cautionary guide, urging them to tread carefully in the year ahead.

On behalf of everyone at the Daily Light, we wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year. Thanks for making us part of your daily routine.