The North Lamar ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to add five propositions to the $51.6 million May 1 election ballot for a bond referendum. A bond was called for May 2020 but canceled due to the pandemic.
If approved by voters, the new proposal will address aging school facilities, new bus replacements, student devices, and energy efficiency. It has been 12 years since a bond passed at NLISD. That one provided $4.68 million for four new science labs, five new computer labs, and repairs and improvements to the North Lamar High School.
The North Lamar ISD Community Advisory Committee recommended Trustees consider a bond proposal after the group spent over a year studying and prioritizing the district’s most critical facility needs. This group of parents, grandparents, graduates, staff, business owners, ministers, and community members volunteered and donated countless hours to examine needs and develop a plan. They toured schools, studied reports, and evaluated the condition of existing buildings. The Committee’s efforts provided the district with a Master Facility Plan and a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on addressing facility needs through a bond proposal.
The bond proposal projects include:
- 15 new buses to replace current fleet that are past their useful life;
- the construction of a new energy-efficient elementary school with a storm shelter for 650 students in grades 2-5;
- the renovation of Everett Elementary for PK-1 that includes an updated exterior, new roof, restrooms, HVAC, and intercom system for increased safety;
- upgraded safety and security features around the district, replacement of end-of-life HVAC units, repairs to the high school auditorium, gym, and athletic facilities, along with a fine arts addition at North Lamar High School;
- repurpose Bailey Intermediate;
- and Chromebooks, iPads, and charging stations so that every student can participate in interactive and remote learning.
Community Advisory Committee member Aaron Barnes said serving on the Committee was an eye-opening experience. “I was impressed by the transparency of the entire process of creating the bond package,” said Barnes, a North Lamar parent and graduate of the district. “Having the administration, our school board and our advisory committee unified around this bond package makes me very excited for the future of our district.”
Superintendent Kelli Stewart commends the Community Advisory Committee for the time and energy they put forth into developing a master plan that Trustees could consider. “State standards are increasing every year, and we strive to progress beyond to provide a modern teaching and learning experience here in North Lamar ISD. It’s been rewarding to watch our community and Board work together to build this plan,” said Stewart. “It’s a critical step, and I know the Board has weighed all the options.”
Texas’s school districts have two budgets: one for maintenance and operations (M&O) and one for capital improvements (I&S). School boards can consider rates for the I&S budget after voter-approved bond referendums. Currently, NLISD has a zero I&S tax rate. If voters approve all five propositions in May, taxpayers’ financial impact will be $27 per month on a $100,000 home. It would not impact property owners that are 65 years of age and older if they have filed for and received a homestead exemption with the state of Texas. Their taxes are frozen.