Vote yes to help students

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We urge approval of the Denton school district’s $312 million bond package.

This timely and well-planned measure is designed to address key areas of concern — growth, facility improvements and energy conservation — and deserves your support.

The Denton ISD is one of the fastest-growing school districts in North Texas. Its dynamic growth has resulted in an ever-increasing student population that must be accommodated, and existing facilities are not adequate to provide the type of educational experience that our students deserve.

Every year, the school district grows by approximately 1,000 new students, and this growth has been consistent for the last decade, officials tell us. As a result, the district’s three comprehensive high schools — Denton, Ryan and Guyer — are at or above capacity.

Last year, the district had 6,556 high school students. In five years, officials say, the district will have 8,200 high school students, and by 2022, the population of the high schools is predicted to reach almost 9,700.

Thus, one of the key components of the $312 million bond package is construction of the district’s fourth comprehensive high school to be located along the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor. In addition, the referendum would provide funding for a much-needed ninth-grade addition at Guyer High School.

The bond package would also fund construction of the district’s 23rd and 24th elementary schools and its eighth middle school, and all three facilities are needed.

At present, officials tell us, there are approximately 13,500 students in the district’s 21 elementary schools. In 2018, that number is expected to reach 15,710 students, and by 2022, elementary students may total 17,884.

Last year, the district had 5,559 students in its middle schools — by 2017, officials estimate there will be about 6,740 middle-school students, and by 2022, the middle school population is expected to exceed 8,000.

In addition to funding new construction, the district’s bond package also addresses another key need — renovations. Voter approval of the package would provide the money needed to make sure that existing facilities are up to standard and provide funding for improvements to energy conservation and land acquisition, officials said.

Estimated costs for all projects in the bond package total more than $329.5 million, and district officials have said that if voters approve the referendum, about $17.6 million in savings obtained from the 2007 bond projects will be applied toward the proposed 2013 bond referendum.

The impact of a positive vote on local taxpayers would be minimal, officials said. Passage of the referendum would result in homeowners with a $150,000 home seeing an estimated increase of $1.25 a month, or about $15 a year, in their tax bill. The owner of a $100,000 home would see an increase of about 83 cents a month or $10 a year, and people with a $300,000 home would pay about $2.50 more a month or $30 more in annual taxes.

Taxes for residents older than 65 with an “over 65 homestead exemption” on their homes are frozen at the rate the homeowners paid the year they qualified for the exemption, according to district officials.

Early voting for the Nov. 5 election begins Monday, and a list of polling places can be found at http://www.votedenton.com. During early voting, which continues through Nov. 1, Denton ISD voters can vote at any Denton County early election site.

The decision facing local voters is an important one, but we believe it’s an easy one to make — supporting the bond program will help guarantee that the school district can continue to provide the type of education our students deserve with only minimal impact on taxpayers.

In our view, we can’t afford to say no.


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