In less than 20 minutes, the town hall meeting to discuss the 2013 Denton school bond election came and went.
Aside from the five bond committee members and four representatives from the Denton school district, three people attended what may be one of the only town hall meetings conducted on the issue, on Monday night at Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.
“The turnout last night was what it was,” Tim Crouch, co-chairman of the bond committee, said in an e-mail Tuesday. “I am always happy with however many people we have show up.”
He added that it’s tough getting people to an event such as the town hall meeting when “it is the only reason to show up.”
Since August, the school bond committee has made several election presentations before Denton school PTAs and other community groups in conjunction with other activities that drew much larger turnouts, Crouch said.
The committee intends to make its next presentation at 6:30 tonight at Navo Middle School, 1701 Navo Road in the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor. No additional town hall meetings are slated at this point, Crouch said.
About 11 additional presentations are scheduled through Oct. 30, including a vendor fair and chili cook-off, a Lions Club meeting and several PTA meetings, among others.
Jim Smith, who served on the 2007 bond committee and attended Monday’s meeting, said that people who haven’t heard about the bond election should have attended the town hall meeting.
“This presentation tonight, there were more bond people here than there were citizens,” Smith said. “That’s too bad.”
During Monday’s meeting, attendees were shown a five-minute video about the projects residents could vote for or against in the Nov. 5 election, followed by a brief question-and-answer session.
Some bond committee members were wearing lime green T-shirts stating “Ask me about Denton ISD’s New High School” — which did get one member stopped on the way out of the meeting by a Ryan High School alumna.
The $312 million bond package includes construction of a fourth comprehensive high school slated for construction along the U.S. 380 Corridor, a 23rd and 24th elementary school, an eighth middle school, a ninth-grade addition at Guyer High School, renovations at 17 campuses, energy conservation improvements and land acquisition.
“This is a package that the district needs,” Crouch said at Monday’s meeting. “That’s why the bond committee was put together and why these recommendations were made. We think that this is the kind of thing that assures that our kids will get the right kind of education.”
According to the video presented Monday, the school district’s student population has more than doubled since 2000, from 13,400 to more than 26,000. By 2018, enrollment is projected at 31,000 students.
Projects planned for the bond package will provide schools for the growing population and refurbish existing facilities, according to the presentation.
The video presentation indicated the estimated additional tax on a $150,000 home, if the bond package is approved, would be $15 a year.
Committee members present Monday said they’re concerned about students living along the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor being bused one hour each way to and from Denton High School and overcrowding in the schools.
Curtis Ramsey, a bond committee member, said there’s been some discussion, primarily from senior citizens, about them paying thousands of dollars in taxes all these years so “why now, why me?”
“You know, there were schools ready when those people went to school. There were schools ready when I went to school. There were schools ready for the people who are in school now,” he said. “It’s always been the American way to pay it forward. We have to prepare for the future before the future gets here, or we have a disaster.”
Rob Rayner, a Denton resident and broker for Tom Fouts Commercial Real Estate Inc., said he attended Monday’s meeting to hear more about the bond project, the number of schools that could be built and who those schools would serve. He said he thought the meeting was thorough and informative.
“I’m very glad to see that the growth of Denton ISD is very healthy. I like that the school board recognizes getting ahead of the curve,” Rayner said. “I think it’s important to not be caught flat-footed as other districts have. Denton has been growing rapidly for a number of years ... and I’m glad to see Denton ISD is getting ready for that.
“The numbers are a little scary, but seeing that the taxes are going to be kept to a minimum, I appreciate being able to see all this before we vote.”
Early voting begins Oct. 21 and continues through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.