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Your Vote Counts: Bryan ISD asks voters to approve bond to fund third intermediate school, Rudder expansion and more

If approved, this bond election would not change the tax rate.
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Rudder High School opened its doors in 2008. Already in 2020, students have been forced into portable classrooms—thanks to overcrowding.

“Those would become 14 classrooms and a set of restrooms,” said Christie Whitbeck, superintendent of Bryan ISD.

A Bryan ISD bond election is asking taxpayers to fund $175 million dollars to expand Rudder High—and much more.

The bond election would also fund the following:

- Purchase of new buses

- Upgrading the fence at Merrill Green stadium

- Provide every school with a new public announcement system for safety

- Replace eight school roofs

- Buy new band instruments and further invest in fine arts

The full list can be found here on Bryan ISD’s bond election information page.

The largest project set to be funded by this bond is a brand new third intermediate school for 5th and 6th grade students in the district. Bryan ISD Board of Trustees President Mark McCall says this is something parents are asking for.

“That they really wanted a third 5th and 6th grade campus to bring those enrollment sizes down on each campus during that very critical transition from elementary school to the middle school years,” McCall said.

Bryan ISD officials say if the bond election passes, district taxpayers' tax rate will not change. It will remain $1.23 per $100 property valuation.

McCall says this bond election would have called for an increase if Bryan ISD had not already managed the money so well.

“We can lower taxes over here, at the same time we’re meeting these needs,” said McCall.

Whitbeck explains how that was managed: “The district has been aggressively paying down debt from the past where interest rates were higher and replacing it with the debt at a low interest rate. Everyone knows that right now our interest rates are at an all-time low. It’s kind of a ‘strike while the iron is hot.’ We’re able to get that old debt down so that when we take on the $175 million in this proposed bond, we do not have to inflate that tax rate.”

If the bond election does not pass, Whitbeck says that rate would almost certainly not decrease.

“The administration would not recommend to our board of trustees to lower it even more because we have too many unknowns in the future,” said Whitbeck. “For example, we’re going into a legislative session; there’s a lot of concern about regular finance for public schools.”

Whitbeck asks voters to consider that Bryan ISD has lowered the tax rate 11 cents over the last four years. Furthermore, she says these proposed improvements are needs, not wants--and should last a while.

“It’s for the children... this will take us four to five years out,” said Whitbeck. “You won’t be hearing back from us for the next four to five years.”

On the ballot, this bond election is required by law to be listed as a tax increase. Bryan ISD administrators stress that if the bond election passes, the tax rate will remain the same as it is now.

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