Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, Amarillo Kids First encourage voters to support AISD bonds
The Amarillo Chamber of Commerce and Amarillo Kids First held a press conference Thursday morning in support of Amarillo Independent School District's bond propositions, highlighting the importance of Proposition A's passing.
Election Day for the AISD propositions and state constitutional amendments is Saturday, and polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
More: AISD approves $285.9 million in bonds for May ballot
Amarillo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jason Harrison spoke about his Amarillo roots and leaving the city to attend college, but then choosing to come back to Amarillo to raise his family because of the school district.
"We, like many others, traveled back to Amarillo to raise our family, and a lot of that was because of the schools. The school system, the buildings, it's just a good, safe school district," Harrison said.
"When you think about these bonds, especially Prop A, it represents an investment in our students, community, and our future workforce, to give them every opportunity to have a safe learning environment and a good education," he said.
AISD submitted four bond proposals to be voted on in the May 7 election. The bonds address the restoration and replacement of facility infrastructure, safety and security enhancements, and fine arts and athletics facility additions and improvements.
The bonds were proposed to the district's school board by the Community Facilities Advisory Committee, with a 70% approval rate, which was approved by the district to be included in the May elections.
"It is not lost on the board or myself. This is a big ask, but there is a big reason for this ask, and that is the staff and students of AISD," said David Nance, president of the AISD board of trustees.
"The question I ask is, 'Who do we want to be as a city? Do we want to be a good city, or do we want to be great and outstanding?' I think the opportunities for us to be outstanding go hand in hand with how we support education, and how much we support local business opportunities, and how much we support our children, and our future workforce. This is just one more opportunity for the city of Amarillo to invest in AISD and the future," Nance said.
Each proposition is calculated to include all costs, including estimated construction cost, escalation due to inflation, fees, permits, furniture, equipment, and code requirements.
Texas voters will also be casting a ballot on two additional constitutional amendments proposed by lawmakers during special sessions. They include:
• Proposition 1 SJR 2 (87th Legislature, 2nd Special Session) proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for the reduction of the amount of a limitation on the total amount of property taxes that may be imposed for general elementary and secondary public school purposes on the residence homestead of a person who is elderly or disabled in order to reflect any statutory reduction in the maximum compressed rate of the maintenance and operations taxes imposed for those purposes on the person’s homestead from the preceding tax year.
• Proposition 2 SJR 2 (87th Legislature, 3rd Special Session) proposes a constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from property taxes for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,000.
AISD Proposition A
The first proposition includes a total cost of $108.6 million, with 62% of the funds being attributed to restoration and replacement of the schools' facilities, including the 79% of schools that are 50 years of age or older.
Highlighted points in the restoration and replacement part of the proposition A budget include a new Austin Middle School to replace the current 71-year-old campus and resolve the current foundation issues referring to the shoring needs as previously reported by the Globe-News, along with window and roof replacements at various schools.
More: AISD moves ahead with renovations to Austin, Houston middle schools
In this plan, 12% of the Proposition A budget will go toward safety and security, including updates to the elementary school perimeter fencing, middle school secured entrances, elementary and middle school gym air conditioning, technology network cabling updates to increase network speed, and supporting modern learning environments and security systems.
The remaining 26% of the budget will go toward the district's fine arts and athletics department, including exterior lighting allowance on some athletic fields to maximize use, and middle and high school fine arts additions and renovations to provide adequate space for program size.
Based on current market estimates of the average home in Amarillo valued at $165,000, with the anticipated increased state homestead exemption of $40,000, Proposition A will include a monthly tax increase of $8.54, or an annual tax increase of $102.48.
Amarillo ISD property taxes for citizens age 65 or older will not be affected by the bond election.
AISD's Proposition B for $19 million would include renovations to Dick Bivins Stadium, including the reconstruction of the spectator stands, and expansion of the track to eight lanes to allow for UIL track meet hosting opportunities.
Proposition B would include an 0.89 tax increase per month, or a $10.68 tax increase per year, based on current market estimates of the average home in Amarillo valued at $165,000 with the anticipated increased state homestead exemption of $40,000.
Proposition C includes the district's construction and addition of a natatorium totaling $38.3 million. It includes the construction of a 50-meter practice and competition indoor swimming pool, to provide a district-owned facility for student swim teams.
The creation of the natatorium would include approximately a $1.82 monthly tax increase, or an annual tax increase of $21.84.
The final proposition includes a bond of $48 million to create a Multi-Purpose Indoor Activity Facility at each of the district's four traditional high schools. The space would serve the fine arts departments, athletics programs, physical education courses and more to provide indoor practice areas in inclement weather.
The Multi-Purpose Indoor Activity Facility would include an estimated monthly tax increase of $2.29, or a yearly tax increase of $27.48.
Amarillo Kids First Co-Chair Rodney Ruthart said in a news release ahead of Thursday's event: “We recognize that this is an investment and understand what we’re asking of voters ... but when you calculate the actual cost of these propositions and look at the impact they will have on all of our students, it becomes clear that we need to come together and support them, especially Prop A.”
If all four propositions are approved, the average home in AISD would see an estimated tax increase of $13.54 a month, or $162.48 annually.
To calculate the exact tax increase to your property per proposition individuals, homeowners are encouraged to visit the tax calculator online at https://www.amarillokidsfirst.com.
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Amarillo Chamber, Kids First unite in support of AISD bond proposals