I read with interest about Waco ISD’s long term plans for closing, renovating and perhaps building new schools through bond elections. In the past two months or so there have been at least three articles about “floating” bonds. The first article mentioned $1 billion, but also mentioned WISD’s questionable ability to repay it. The article this week put the price tag at $375 million.
It seems that school districts generally think that taxpayer dollars just grow on trees, and there is some kind of entitlement mentality when school districts want new facilities.
If memory serves me, years ago, WISD guaranteed the taxpayers that the scoreboard at the stadium would be fully paid for with advertising dollars. That didn’t happen. Money had to be taken from the general fund.
SpaceX was offered economic development money by the city of Waco if a certain number of its new hires would live in the city of Waco. It didn’t happen, and SpaceX didn’t get the money. I’d be willing to bet it was mostly due to WISD’s performance.
School districts have convinced themselves that new, bright, shiny, expensive facilities enable students to learn better. This is a myth promoted by school boards, administrations, teachers associations/unions and athletic directors/coaches. There is no solid evidence of this, but there is concrete evidence that facilities do not matter. (Read Malcolm Gladwell and others who are familiar with the subject.) All students really need is opportunity. (Sidenote: The high school that I graduated from, and also graduated numerous notable Americans, is 96 years old and still educating students.)
School districts use taxpayer money to get what they want through bonds. They hire consultants that always say the district is in need of something, consult “school construction companies” to pitch extravagant buildings and facilities, hire bond writers to craft language and then hire marketing firms to push the bonds. (I’m recalling the phrase “for the children,” or other language like the “average Waco ISD home with a $117,499 taxable value ... would translate into an extra $146.76 in school taxes per year.”) This is terribly unfair. Not only that, but just how many homes in Waco are valued at $117,499 these days?
Waco ISD needs to get its attendance rates up, graduation rates up, student performance and college admission rates up, standardized testing pass rates up, and get all campuses to at least “acceptable,” but perhaps “exemplary,” before asking for large amounts of money for new facilities.
There has to be more accountability for tax dollars.
Jeff Rader, Waco
There is no labor shortage. There is a wage shortage. Employers want to end unemployment benefits so they can force workers to work for the non-livable wages that were there before the pandemic. Employers need to raise wages, but instead they want to make the maximum in profits while keeping the working man in poverty.