They’ve changed their name but the task is still the same: to provide good schools in one of the fastest growing communities in the Metroplex.
The Midlothian Independent School District has pulled together people from the community and the school district to be part of the 2007 Bond Steering Committee. The group met June 19 for the first time.
“We’ve come together as members of the Midlothian community because we all feel education is a very important issue,” said MISD Place 6 Trustee, Cindy Williams, who acted as facilitator of Tuesday’s meeting. “We renamed this committee because we want to be up front with the community.”
The Bond Steering Committee is made up for 55 people who will study facility needs and hammer our a proposed bond issue for the community. The bond plan will be presented to the MISD Board of Trustees for approval before going to voters.
While the BSC has not heard any proposals or made any plans, the district is faced with a need for a second high school and at least one and maybe two elementary schools over the next five years.
The BSC is a revamp of the Growth Management Committee that was formed in 2004 and successfully pitched an $80 million bond package that bought land, renovated Midlothian High School and buildings across the district and built Midlothian Stadium.
Since then the district has had difficulty passing all propositions put before voters. From 1958 until May 1999 Midlothian never saw a school bond issue defeated.
In looking at bond referendum data, the BSC noticed that the voting populace in Midlothian grew from 2,260 votes in March 2003 for a $99 million bond to more than 4,300 voters in November 2006 for a $15 million bond.
“If you look at those numbers it tells you we have a lot of new people,” said John Johnson, a BSC member. “The percentages of people supporting bond issues has not changed but the turnout to vote has.”
BSC member Jamie Wickliffe , a Realtor and native of Midlothian, said the tax burden coupled with a changing community is part of the reason people are not voting for school facilities when they are so badly needed.
“Home owners and business people are seeing an escalation in taxes,” said Wickliffe. “And there is the fear factor of all these people moving into the community and so much growth and change.”
Norman Pender said he felt the weaker propositions of the past two bond issues have given voters a reason to oppose all parts of the referendum.
“The previous mindset was the stronger parts of the bond would pull the weaker ones along,” said Pender. “I think what we’ve seen is the weaker points have pulled the better propositions down.”
Voters turned down a $15.7 million Midlothian ISD bond package that would have enhanced extra-curricular facilities and program across the district in November 2006.
The referendum failed with 2,059 casting a ballot in favor of the bond issue and 2,241 voting against it - a difference of 182 votes.
It was the second time voters nixed funding for extra curricular programs in 2006. A similar proposal, also for baseball, softball, band and ag science, was pitched to voters in May and it lost by 140 votes.
Midlothian saw a heavy turn out at the polls as voters cast ballots for state and local elections. Incumbent County Judge Chad Adams, of Midlothian, faced off against Chuck Beatty and this race also pulled Midlothian voters to the poll.
“The interesting thing about bond elections is you find out what people want,” MISD Board President Duke Burges said in November. “I don’t think we were handed a mandate, but this was the largest turnout we have ever had for a MISD bond. I applaud our voters for turning out and casting a ballot.”
Burge did concede this was the second defeat for the extra curricular package and the board would probably turn its attention to the building of a seventh elementary school and a second high school.
“The needs are still there, but the district has other growth needs, too,” said Burge. “We are a high-growth district and this isn’t the last school bond referendum for Midlothian.”
Burge pointed out data indicates the district will need a new school building every year for the next seven years to keep up with growth.
MISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy said at the time that voters would see another bond referendum in either November 2007 or May of 2008.
“This vote has not changed our timeline for building new facilities,” Kennedy added. “I do think the last two elections have shown us how hard it is to pass extra-curricular items alone. The community doesn’t seem to vote for those programs unless their kids are directly involved in them.”
The nuts and bolts of the $15.7 million bond package sought funding for extra curricular activities and sports facilities
The referendum sought $2.5 million for ag facilities, $480,000 for band instruments and $12.89 million for athletic facilities and land purchases.
A point of contention in the community had been whether to tear down Don Floyd Stadium where many of the community’s older voters had memories of playing football, marching in band or walking as homecoming kings and queens.
The GMC decided to tear down Don Floyd Stadium and build new baseball and softball field there rather than build new facilities on school property north of the new football stadium on 14th Street.
A portion of the $1.5 million sought for land purchases would have been used to purchase property for the seventh elementary school and begin looking for property for a third high school. The district has not said where it might build the seventh elementary school.
The district has already purchased land on Walnut Grove Road for a second high school and is eyeing plans to build a $50 million to $70 million high school there in two to five years.
GMC’s strategy was to get extra curricular facilities out of the way with this bond referendum so the district could focus solely on school buildings.
Since it takes 18 to 24-months to build a school, the district is also quickly approaching the deadline to begin construction before the student population fills current facilities at both Longbranch and Mt. Peak Elementary.
J.R. Irvin Elementary, the district’s oldest and smallest facility will top out in 2007 with 476 students. The new elementary school approved in May and redrawing school attendance zones will help alleviate that problem. But Longbranch and Mt. Peak will reach capacity in 2008. The district’s two newest facilities, they are designed to hold approximately 850 students.
The district is also faced with a high school that is rapidly approaching capacity. A new $50 million high school takes about a year to design and two years to construct. Student population figures indicate MISD will need a new high school by 2010. The growth committee has also indicated it wants high schools with a maximum student population of 2,500.
Midlothian ISD is growing at roughly 8 percent each year.
Members of the Bond Steering Committee are:
Brian Blackwell, Robin Bullock, Nena Challenner, Bill Burdett, Danny Rodgers, Al Hemmle, Floyd Ingram, Joe Fallis, Richard Norman , Steve Massey, William Reese, Karen Cox, Judy Walling, Cherie Wagoner, Larry Keiser, Kirk Paschall, Cindy Williams, Jim Mentzel, Vicki Massey, Jana Hathorne, Becky Blackburn, Coy Tipton, La-shea Slaydon, Scott Fertig, Pat Farrell, Norman Pender, Don Hogg, Carl Smith, J.D. Kennedy, Mike Marshall, Gail Haynes, Bridget Flaherty, Dee Arterburn, Karen Childers, Wayne Shuffield, Jr., Leesa Vardeman, AIA, Davis Morgan, Rene Williams, Krista Tipton, Jamie Wickliffe, Phil E. Seay, Jay B. Roberts, Roger Jaffe, Shara Backus, Kim Gilson, Gina Florence, Dee Wilson, Kathy Armstrong, John Johnson, Monte Mechler, Andrea Walton, Duke Burge, Tom Moore, Donald Reese, Rhonda Welch, Heidi Byrum, Gary Vineyard, Doug Hankins, David Boswell, Tony Lokash, Alicia Gonzalez, Jean Embry, Bob Templeton, Kim Wiens, Ken Marks, Tim Savins, Gregory Glenn, Dawn Brown, William Houston, Dan Dunegan, Matt McKay, Jimmy Bailey and Richard Reno.