Did Midland Really Approve a $569 million School District Bond or Not?
MIDLAND, TX – Election officials in Midland reported on the night of Nov. 5 that a $569 million school bond proposition passed by 18 votes but later released results that show the bond actually failed by 25 votes.
Midland County Elections Administrator Deborah Land said they had difficulty with new voting equipment on election night.
Land confirmed to the Midland Reporter Telegram that the office originally published incorrect results, showing the item passed, but it did not include the separate report that contains mail-in ballots, which reversed the outcome of the bond proposition.
“On Election Night, there were two reports posted on our website,” Land said. “One said unofficial results, and that was ballot by-mail, which at that time was 501, and then, the cumulative is only early voting and election day in person – and those numbers should have been added together, and no one was catching that.”
The cumulative results posted on the website show 11,581 for the bond and 11,563 against the bond. Once the mail-in ballots are added to the cumulative totals, the results are 11,803 for and 11,828 against. The $569 million bond failed by 25 votes.
Like the two consecutive bond propositions which failed in San Angelo, there was an aggressive and organized group promoting the bond.
We Choose Our Future, the pro-bond group, had spent months promoting and advertising the bond. Co-Chairman David Joyner emailed a statement to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
“Now that all the legal votes have been cast, it appears that the community has voted against this bond measure. Based on our work and polling data, we expected the margin to be small and that is certainly the case. It is our sincere hope that a subsequent bond proposal is brought before the school board as quickly as possible because we recognize that our school district's capacity needs have to be addressed posthaste. We are so thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who worked to advocate for this bond and hope that each of them takes away from this the understanding that bringing people into the conversation about education in Midland is worth the effort. We will continue to work to ensure that a bond is passed that will provide safe, secure and modern capacity for our students.”
A $150 million bond referendum for the San Angelo ISD failed last year. SAISD Superintendent Dr. Carl Dethloff issued the following statement in Nov. 2018:
"We continue to be respectful of our community’s voice and learn from the many differing viewpoints that make our city strong. We have all learned from recent elections that your vote truly counts and can make an impact on local decisions. Both proposition “A” and proposition “B” on the SAISD bond did not pass. Thank you to everyone who took time to be informed about San Angelo ISD’s bond referendum and who exercised their right to vote in our November election. Although our bond election failed, we remain committed to providing our community’s children a learning experience that is academically robust and builds on the learning attributes necessary for our students to experience success in the modern era. Irrespective of your stance on our recent bond, it is now time to reestablish the unity and support for our school system that makes San Angelo a great place to live and work. I would like to acknowledge the work of our long-range facilities planning committee for listening to our constituents and redesigning a bond package that truly prioritized and planned for the needs of our students and staff. Their advocacy will translate to a flourishing public education experience for all of our students in the years to come. Also, I would like to thank our school board for setting the conditions for success in our district and casting the vision to provide facilities that meet the needs of our next generation of learners. Our board’s determined efforts to provide updated facilities for our students does not go unnoticed. Although our facilities continue to age, it is time to pause, take a hiatus on bond elections, and focus on the many wonderful gifts our students bring to us daily in San Angelo."
The Texas Legislature passed school property tax relief in the summer of 2019. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that will cost more than $11.5 billion in 2020 and 2021. Of those funds, about $5 billion go toward cutting property taxes on homes and businesses and $6.5 billion pay for educational reforms, including a 20% hike in schools’ baseline per-student funding.
The education bill would reduce school property tax rates by an average of 8 cents per $100 of a home’s value in 2020 and by 13 cents in 2021. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that would amount to a decrease of about $160 in 2020.
In the San Angelo ISD, the school board adopted a balanced budget in August and lowered the tax rate by 8 cents per $100 in property value. This year’s overall tax rate is reduced from $1.21 to $1.13 for the 2019-20 school year. The 8 cent reduction in the property tax rate benefits the owner of a $200,000 home by lowering the home's annual property tax bill $160.
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