Chillicothe Independent School District is looking to bring major repairs and improvements to schools throughout the district. School officials hope to do this by passing a $4 million bond.
Although the cost doesn't sound like a steep price to pay, it will impact tax rates for residents in the community. If that bond passes Chillicothe residents will see a 15 cent tax rate hike.
Currently, residents $1.04, the rate would increase to $1.19. That means for a home valued at $100,000, the homeowners would see a yearly increase of $160. Those rates broken down even further would come out to $13.33 a month.
"I hope the community sees this as being affordable," said Interim Superintendent Jerry Baird. "This is our future. And again, like I say, the community will have the final say in it. They will give us the direction they want us to go."
The school district has not had a school bond since the 1980's, according to Baird, and many different parts of the building infrastructure need replacing.
A majority of maintenance and operation taxes collected in Chillicothe are sent straight to the state, according to Baird.
"We can't make the necessary improvements out of what we would be generating on local terms," said Baird.
A school bond is the only way to afford any type of upgrades that are vital for the district, according to school officials.
School administration pointed out that even with the projected tax rate increase, Chillicothe ISD would still have some of the lowest tax rates in the area:
Vernon ISD $1.14
Crowell ISD $1.17
Chillicothe ISD (Projected) $1.19
Iowa Park ISD $1.28
Northside ISD $1.29
Electra ISD $1.31
Guthrie ISD $1.32
If you are age 65 or older, your property taxes will not increase if you have filed for the exemption.
"We're not going to make everything new," said Baird. "We just can't do that. But we are going to try to improve as much of what we have, as we can."
Necessities like air conditioning and roof repairs are among a number of projects the district hopes to complete if the bond is passed.
The bond would bring new buses to the district fleet and energy efficiency to school utilities.
Baird said the bond would also allow for upgrades to football stadium lights and a new re-surfaced track.
It will bring technology updates to the classrooms and much needed safety and surveillance to each school campus.
A special security surveillance system is currently used at the elementary school. The system locks every entrance point to the school; the only way to gain access is through the front of the building. Certain guest or views have to be identified by school official in order to be buzzed in.
Currently, the elementary school is the only one that has those safety features. But those are some of the features school officials hope to add if the bond passes.
This project alone is generating support from one ISD parent.
"I'm going to be for it," said parent and resident Marie Reinhardt. "You know for the safety protection for my child all the rest of the children here. It's the best thing that could happen."
She said safety for her child is her main priority, and if it means spending extra money, she's all for it.
"That really shouldn't make much of a difference because you really won't notice a few more dollars missing anyway," said Reinhardt. "There's no problem for me."
Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 5. You can cast your ballot at Chillicothe City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election day is Saturday, May 9 at the Chillicothe Ag Pavilion. Voting hours Saturday are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.