Our district is facing budget challenges that, if not resolved, are certain to affect long term educational policy, curriculum, facilities, teachers, our kids, and the community.
Because of the way our school finance is structured, Eanes cannot thrive on general fund dollars alone, as more than half of each tax dollar goes to other districts. Raising taxes is an inefficient way to raise revenues and laying off teachers or eliminating extra-curricular programs to reduce expenses work against the goal of maintaining excellence in education. The bonds are a way to give us local control of local dollars, as we keep the money here in our district. That means bonds are critical to resolving our budget challenges. They allow us to improve our longest-lived assets, our buildings, such that they cost less to maintain, are more responsive to the needs of the teachers and students, are flexible to accommodate changes in technology and teaching methodologies, and provide opportunities for increasing revenue by leasing them out and better managing enrollment.
It may be counter-intuitive, but to save money, we must spend money. Here is just one example of how that works:
With bond dollars, our district installed turf fields at our campuses. That investment cost money up front (local dollars spent on local gain) to install the fields, but now we save money by not needing to tend to the grass. The M&O (maintenance and operations) dollars we would have spent on mowing and watering the grass and paying for the caretakers can now be spent on teachers. And these fields can be rented out after school hours and on weekends, generating more money that isn't subject to recapture by the state and can be used to pay for teachers.
Using the same approach, we can use bonds to improve our facilities throughout the district, reducing costs, increasing revenues, and improving the educational experience for students and teachers within. The best news is that those investments will last long into the future, protecting our property values. That means bonds are a way to respect the taxpayers, as they will continue to gain from the investment even after our kids have graduated.
As a licensed architect, I can offer useful insights and inform the dialogue regarding how we can more wisely invest in our district's facilities. As a mother with three kids in three schools, and a volunteer committed to engaging the broader community in important decisions, I will strengthen the connections between the EISD community and the school district so that when it is time for a vote, our community can come to the polls united in our support.
Please inform yourself so you can vote with confidence on May 9th.