A local resident Monday night expressed to school trustees his disapproval of Sulphur Springs Independent School District’s proposed $48 million school bond election, and offered alternative suggestions.
“I’m for education. There’s needs. I’m for spending only on things that are necessities,” Bob Burns told SSISD trustees during the public forum portion of Monday night’s SSISD board meeting.
Burns recognized the need for a new facility to house the 900 plus students enrolled at Sulphur Springs Middle School, and to make needed facilities repairs at the six other schools in the district to make them more comfortable for students.
He said based on 2000 and 2007 estimates, with additional amounts added for rising costs, the cost of building a new school and repairs at other facilities would be about $33 million. The remaining portion of the proposed bond amount would be “in excess of what is needed.”
He specified that a multi-use facility and finishing the track he considers “not necessary... not something essential to the day-to-day education of children. He pointed out that while quite a few students participate in athletics, band and special programs, not all do.
The facility would be for those programs, which although popular, are not required components of children’s education.
“They don’t spend the money the way I do — the funding in my pocketbook. I’m a poor person, not a rich one. I’ve got to watch it; I’m on a fixed income,” expressed Burns, indicating his belief the district should view spending in a similar matter, necessities first.
Burns also proposed waiting to sell bonds until the six to nine month period in which it would take to draw up plans and get ready for construction. He argued the money market rate or return would be lower than the repayment amount.
“Why not wait? It’s not necessary. Sell the bond when you start work,” Burns said, referring to a conversation he said he and Superintendent Patsy Bolton had about the six to nine months it would take to draw up plans and get ready to begin construction.
Burns suggested that the district try to obtain a portion of the stimulus money designated for Texas education.
Following the open portion of Monday’s school board meeting, Bolton noted that SSISD has already received information that the district will receive two portions of funding, but that they are for designated purposes: for special education purposes, but not recurring salaries as the funding is one time only and must be spent within 18 months; and Title I funding, federal funding for at-risk students, possibly technology or other additional improvements targeted toward those students.
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