Why are Bonds so Important?
The current school budget is mainly geared towards Maintenance and Operations (M&O), which includes salaries for teachers, bus drivers, child nutrition services, etc. Infrastructure is paid for by bonds, which is essentially debt that the school district has to take on. Obviously, it is not good to take on too much debt, but Leander ISD watches this closely and we are in good financial standing (see Is Leander Broke?). Here are some of the top reasons a bond is so important:
Rapid Growth - The communities that support Leander ISD are rapidly growing with an estimated increase of 1,200 students every year. We need to build new schools to prevent overcrowding and minimize rezoning.
Neighborhood Schools - Schools strengthen relationships between the community and school by placing schools close to neighborhoods so that students do not have to travel far to get to school. Bond money will allow for these schools to be built in newly established neighborhoods.
Aging Buildings - Many of the Leander ISD schools are dated. They are in need of maintenance such as roofs, HVAC systems, etc.
Why not push the bonds to May 2023?
Low Voter Turnout Risks Bond Success - The bond vote for Proposition A and C in November 2021 unfortunately did not pass (election results). The bond vote was really close for both of those votes: 50.54% against A and 51.92% against C. There were about 20,000 votes cast in this election, compared to 70,000 votes in 2020 for school board elections. The difference in voter turnout is because 2021 was an off-election year, while 2020 was a presidential election. While low voter turnout doesn’t necessarily mean the bond will fail, many who stand to benefit from the bond may not even know to vote. The November 2022 election is a major election, which will likely see a higher voter turnout. May 2023 is both an off-election year and month, which will likely result in lower voter turnout.
Less Time is Needed to Study the Issue - The district conducted about 7 months of study in order to bring the failed bond proposals last year. The amount of time needed for study should not be the same as last year. The need for the bond has not magically changed. The costs may have changed; however this can be determined in more of an abbreviated study, using the results of the prior study to help guide the bond proposal.
Urgency - More and more students are entering the schools, families are having to travel long distances to take their kids to school, and our schools badly need renovating. If we wait to vote on the bond, we are delaying school improvement work that our students and staff need now.
Call to Action - The Leander Board of Trustees needs to hear your voice if you would like to get the bond passed in November 2022. You can either speak to them at Citizen’s Comments (May 5th or May 19th). Sign up here to speak on May 5th. Note you must sign up to speak between 12:00 PM on Wednesday to 12:00 PM Thursday prior to the start of the meeting. For information about meetings click here. Also, you can send the Board of Trustees an email at email@example.com and let them know that it is vital that we vote for the bond in November.