LA FERIA — Voters will decide whether the school district will borrow up to $14 million for school improvements.
The school board has decided unanimously to send a bond issue to a vote May 7.
Officials want to use the money to upgrade the 60-year-old C.E. Vail Elementary School and make other improvements.
“It’s something that is very important and it’s needed for our students and it’s based on what we feel is needed to enhance instruction in a good learning environment,” Superintendent Rey Villarreal said.
“It’s approximately $14 million in bonds. We approved that amount but it may not be that big.”
Because of the money market right now, the district qualifies for that much, he said. But if interest rates change it could be less.
The bond package would raise property taxes by 7.14 cents per $100 of appraised value.
Villarreal said the bonds fall under the Instructional Facilities Allotment program.
The state program provides assistance to school districts in making debt service payments on qualifying bonds or lease-purchase agreements. Bond or lease-purchase proceeds must be used for the construction or renovation of an instructional facility.
“The bond will primarily be used to upgrade C.E. Vail Elementary,” Villarreal said. “It will also be used to build an Agriculture barn at the high school.”
C.E. Vail would get a new gym and receive upgrades to the building. Parking lots also need attention in the district, he said.
“That facility needs some serious upgrades,” Villareal said. “We’re going to try and be frugal as much as we can and stretch the funds.”
The bond issue would increase the district’s $1.30 property tax rate by 7 cents. That means the owner of a home valued at $65,000 would pay about $45 more.
“I’m very confident that it’s going to pass because it’s a good thing and it’s going to meet the needs for C.E. Vail,” said Gloria Casas, a school board trustee. “The community will be very happy that the majority of this bond will be to improve C.E. Vail.”
However, not everyone is excited about the bond in La Feria.
A local educator, Yosef Mughrabi, who has children attending the district, says he’s organizing a stand against the bond package and he’s going to pass out printed information for the public to read why he and others are opposed.
“The reason myself and a lot of other community members appose this bond is because we feel the superintendent and the school board haven’t got us involved in the decsion making,” Mughrabi said.
He and others want a public forum to gather information about the bond issue and what the money will be used for.
Mughrabi said Harlingen passes school bonds all the time because the community trusts the superintendent and the school board.
He said before Harlingen’s last school bond package passed, the district had 29 public meetings educating the community about the bonds and how the money would be used.
“We haven’t had one single public meeting,” Mughrabi said. “Me and other community members don’t want our taxes to go higher.”