BELL COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – Temple ISD approved a bond worth over $164 million and Belton ISD approved two propositions totaling almost $174 million.
The Temple ISD projects include four main areas of need. Keeping up with growth, increasing safety and security, addressing aging facilities, and expanding student programs. That includes a new elementary school, which would be the first new school in Temple ISD since 1996.
Dr. Bobby Ott says TISD had the most decisive bond victory in three counties.
“What it means for us is now we can take care of our kids,” Dr. Ott said.
He says this region is one of the fastest growing ones in Texas, and that needs to be accommodated.
In November, the election only failed by two votes which lead to more new voters in May than November.
“There were so many people afterwards that said, oh, we just didn’t vote,” Dr. Ott said. “We assumed it would pass.”
Since then, he has spent more time engaging in the community.
“They just gave us really good feedback,” Dr. Ott said. “And I think the community saw that. That once again, we listened, and we were responsive when we made all the changes they asked.”
One piece of feedback they acted on was removing the new stadium proposition.
“Having more than one proposition confused a lot of our voters,” Dr. Ott said. “They felt like, well, I want the one with the elementary school, but maybe I don’t want the stadium. But if I vote for the one with the elementary school, are they going to include the stadium?”
The tax impact was lowered to under three cents. In the November bond, it was 12.5 cents.
Part of the bond will go toward safety and security improvements such as secured entrances at the last three schools and removing portables.
“It’s called a security vestibule which basically means that when you walk through the exterior set of doors, there’s another set of doors,” Dr. Ott said. That way people can have eyes on you to see if you’re supposed to be in the building or not.”
The bond will also update aging facilities, so they can last 50+ years as intended.
“We have a facility that houses our maintenance groundskeepers and school nutrition staff,” Dr. Ott said. “That facility was constructed in the 1950s. It has no heating and air conditioning today.”
Also, student programs will be expanded such as agriculture and making the Meridith-Dunbar Auditorium ADA accessible which was grandfathered in in the 60’s.
“I was at the Bell County youth fair not too long ago,” Dr. Ott said. “Plenty of students had walked up and said we’re not able to participate in this competition because there’s not enough pens over there.”
A close neighbor to Temple will also be getting new schools and improvements.
Belton ISD will add two new elementary schools. Superintendent Matt Smith is thankful for the community support in that, but is still focused on the deadly stabbing of Joe Ramirez at Belton High School nearly a week ago.
“We have been through some challenging situations in Belton in the last week, and, appropriately our focus is on students, staff and community in Belton because we have healing to do,” Superintendent Smith said.
The Temple ISD bond will be official on Wednesday at the board meeting.
To follow along with Temple ISD progress, click here.
To follow along with Belton ISD progress, click here.