Normangee ISD considers new bond after voters rejected bond in November

“Just because the bond failed doesn’t mean our needs, our student needs, and our facility needs have magically disappeared.”
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:21 PM CST
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NORMANGEE, Texas (KBTX) -School leaders in Normangee are going back to the drawing board after voters rejected a bond election this past November.

The previous $20 million bond proposal failed by only 38 votes which school leaders say is not surprising considering voters across the lone star state overwhelming voted down many bond proposals. According to statewide data, only 47% of 110 district-led bond propositions passed. Something that hasn’t occurred since 2011.

For Normangee ISD officials, failure is not an option. They say they’ve listened to concerns and say a bond is still needed.

The District superintendent, Mark Ruffin says while he can’t specifically give his views of the bond, he says the measure was designed to address the needs and concerns of students and parents.

“It’s a revision or a review of the bond from November. We went out for a 20 million dollar bond in November, and it was voted down. Our community spoke, and we’ve listened,” said Ruffin. “Just because the bond failed doesn’t mean our needs, our student needs, and our facility needs have magically disappeared.”

The district is considering asking voters to reconsider their November vote. Ruffin says he heard from those on both sides of the issue and thinks things will be different if given another chance.

“We listened to the fact that the community said no, and so we’re going back to the drawing board, looking at things that maybe we can take on locally that we can carry out and pay for out of our general fund balance,” said Ruffin.

Potential projects include adding multiple classrooms, drainage improvements, a cafeteria expansion, but the top of the list is a new agricultural complex.

“Large major capital improvement projects are still looming. One of those being our A.G. shop,” said Ruffin. “Our AG building is such a huge component of our climate and of our culture. Our kids love being in that building, love to be doing AG, love to be doing welding projects. They turn out amazing projects and amazing work, and honestly, it’s an adequate space right now. It does not provide sufficient electricity to run some of the machinery that they need and the space constraints alone make it difficult.”

“Definitely one thing on the list is drainage across our campuses. Back in July, we had a large rainfall here and we flooded, our gym floor was one of the primary victims of that and so we’ve had to completely demolish and replace our gym floor because of flooding.,” said Ruffin. “We need classroom space. We’re growing and we currently have teachers that are floating from classroom to classroom.

Ruffin says one thing to keep in mind is that construction costs continue to increase at historic rates. Construction estimates and budgets that were developed last year will likely see significant increases which further complicate the bond planning process.

Kristin Shaffer has three children in the district She says facilities are needed to meet the demands of the growing district.

“Since my oldest started school here, our school numbers have increased,” said Shaffer. “To me, it’s important that the school can get the things that they need to continue to have these wonderful well-rounded students come out of Normangee ISD. We need these extra facilities and we need these extra technology classrooms to help support the continued successes of our graduating students.”

Ruffin says he believes the outcome will be different if the bond is placed on the ballot in May.

“One thing that’s exciting that’s coming up in May’s election is anything that happens on that ballot is also going to be in conjunction with every voter across the state of Texas voting to increase the homestead exemption $15,000,” said Ruffin. “So voters across the state are going to see some tax relief on their homestead exemptions from increasing that from 25 to $40,000. So that’s another key thing to take into consideration.”

Ruffin says the main goal of the district is to do what’s best for the kids and provide them with the things they need to be successful.

“We are inspiring a passion for learning, and that’s our vision,” said Ruffin. “That’s what our goal is and in order to do that we have to have certain things.”

Normangee ISD has compiled a series of videos explaining various aspects of the bond.

A facilities committee made up of community members and business leaders will meet Thursday to discuss the next steps in considering a potential bond proposal.

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