BOND: Magnolia ISD Proposition 1 & 2

Reviewer’s Report:
Bond Information Website

A) There are 2 separate propositions relating to Magnolia ISD:

Proposition 1 deals with the ISD’s campuses and facilities. Magnolia ISD has experienced a 5% growth since 2010 and the growth rate is expected to continue to remain at this level for the foreseeable future. In 2004, there was a bond election to build a new high school and one elementary school however the middle school/junior high levels were not addressed and one new elementary school was not sufficient to handle the anticipated increased enrollment. At the elementary and junior high levels, the ISD has 2 campuses that are over 70 years old, 1 that is 45 years old and 2 more that are over 30 years old. The ISD would like to address these issues without re-drawing any boundaries and forcing kids to change schools. The ISD would also like to update safety and security in the district plus upgrade technology.

Proposition 2 addresses the District’s water usage. Currently 25% of the irrigation water usage is to water the football fields. The District is limited to 42,000,000 gallons in water usage per year, and with the increased enrollment, they are likely to go over that amount in the next school year. Saving the 4,318,277 gallons that go towards watering the footballs fields annually would likely keep them from having to pay the surcharge for going over their water usage ($2.50/1000 gallons of water).

B) Proposition 1 one would:
(1) Re-purpose the 78 year old Magnolia 6th grade campus and construct a new 5th and 6th grade campus next to the Junior High
(2) Renovate the existing 32 year old Bear Branch 6th grade campus to double the capacity and create a new 5th and 6th grade campus
(3) Purchase land for future school sites
(4) Renovate both of the existing Junior Highs
(5) Make additions to 2 of the elementary schools
(6) Make needed improvements at all campuses (HVAC, electrical, roofing, etc.)
(7) Purchase new buses
(8) Update the District’s video security system
(9) Add a fiber optic network for internet, phones & HVAC

The Proposition 2 is for the following:
(1) Construct a 20,000 square foot conference center
(2) Install turf on both high school football fields

C) It appears that based on the explanation of the projects and the project schedules that Proposition 1 will be an efficient and reasonable use of funds – though there is no real information regarding the construction (just a timetable for completion) and the costs relating to construction can vary greatly depending on the circumstances. They are not anticipating that the bond proposal will increase the Magnolia ISD tax rate – based on anticipated increased property values and bond interest rates. Proposition 1 looks like it will reasonably address the problems faced by the ISD in regards to increased enrollment without creating any kind of a burden on the community.

Proposition 2, however is not as clear cut. The conservation of water is a valid and worthwhile goal, however the District may reach their water limit, and they may not. It will cost $2 million to put turf on both of the football fields and in the Bond Proposal Flyer, the reasons for the change to turf are listed as, “This will allow other participants such as band, junior high athletics, soccer, NJROTC, lacrosse clubs to use the fields; water conservation; standard of high schools within the region.” Water conservation isn’t even listed first. It appears that there may be some underlying issues regarding who can use the fields, plus the high schools basically want their fields to be as nice as the other high schools in the region. This does not mean that switching to turf is a bad idea; this just might not be the best use of $2 million at this point.

The bigger issue, however, is the construction of the District Conference Center at a price of $6 million. The only place the Center is discussed is in one of the newspaper articles. One of the committee members said, “We feel [the center] will unite both sides of Magnolia, give us a place to train our teachers, a place for community members to meet and a place for us to gather and celebrate as a school district.” None of that is discussed anywhere else, and the need for such a Center has not been clearly established.

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