BRENHAM ISD EVALUATING PATH FORWARD AFTER UNSUCCESSFUL BOND PROPOSAL

  

Brenham ISD is looking at what comes next after the district’s $153.9 million bond proposal was rejected by voters.

Brenham ISD Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin speaks during the Brenham School Board's meeting on March 7th.

The measure failed with 2,255 votes against and 1,750 in favor.  The bond called for a new junior high school for grades 6-8, and also would have funded improvements for the Career and Technical Education department, field house locker rooms and cafeteria, and a band marching pad.  In addition, funding would have gone toward districtwide accessibility and security improvements and fiber internet enhancements.

Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin said the district’s next step is to evaluate the reasons that led to the outcome and move from there.

 

 

Had the bond passed, it would have increased the district’s tax rate by an estimated $0.2480 per $100 valuation from the current rate of $0.9884 per $100.

Dr. Chaplin said it is too soon to know what the district’s plans will be regarding another bond proposal, so time will be taken to visit with the community to determine the path ahead.

 

 

Brenham ISD last passed a bond in 2012 for $25.9 million to build Alton Elementary School and renovate the middle school.  Prior to that, the district passed a $10 million bond in 2004 to build Brenham Elementary School and a $23.6 million bond in 1994 to build a new high school and auditorium.

A total of 21,392 people were registered to vote for Saturday's bond election, and there was a voter turnout of 16.61 percent.

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14 Comments

  1. I came from a nearby school district that brought in a consultant. The committee brought 3 separate proposals to the community to vote on.
    The highest included all the ‘needs’ AND ‘wants’ of the district.
    The lowest included only the ‘needs’.

    But the one that the community chose was the middle of the road, it included all the ‘needs’ along with a few ‘wants’ that made total sense to the community. This approach gave the taxpayers the opportunity to have a say in the decision along with the committee that put the plans together. Maybe BISD should try this approach.

  2. I totally agree with the comments of Concered. If you drive by the high school on the FM2935 side you might think its a barn sitting in a pasture. No landscaping or maintenance. Pitiful.

  3. It’s good this bond election was not passed. School taxes are already high enough and most people simply can’t afford an increase of this magnitude right now. Not only that, most people wouldn’t realize how significant the tax increase would’ve been until they opened their next tax bill and fainted.

    I also question the estimated cost of the Jr High facility that the District put forth under this bond election … seems very high (even with the current rate of inflation). In addition, the PR job on selling this bond to voters made me feel like I was listening to a snake oil salesman. Not a good strategy! If I sensed it, I suspect many others did as well. I got the impression that the plan was to intentionally not maintain and repair things so it could be used as evidence to convince people to vote in favor of the bond. People are getting real tired of being misled by the people managing our tax dollars … not just locally, but also on the state and federal level. Maybe consider proposing a bond that includes a major renovation and the chances of getting voter approval will probably improve significantly. You can still get a good education in a building that’s 100 years old and properly maintained.

  4. I am hoping that this was a purposeful attempt at a trial balloon and over negotiation to try and feel out resistance to use that information to calculate the value of the next bond proposal. If so, the bond committee was doing what they were supposed to. If this was a legitimate first pass and not a planned over negotation, then the bond committee failed and was not acting strategically. Here are some tips if you want this to pass next time:

    1.) Don’t throw any more numbers out there that include “want list” items. The junior high building was the obvious need. I am not sure if the other items were absolute needs or not, but it appeared as blatent negotation “nibbling”.

    2.) You need to work backwards in terms of the cost. Let’s say the average property value in Washington County is $350,000. This rate increase would cost that homeowner an additional $868/year in taxes. That is nearing $1000 and throws up red flags to most people. People are going to look at something sub $500/year as reasonable. Doing some quick math, that gives you a maximum tax rate increase of about .145%. If this is all linear, that roughly equates to about a $90M bond. Stay in that range and advertise how reasonable this is.

    3.) The campaign that was done with this was really subpar. This sort of thing needs a real campaign, not a few green signs scattered in a few yards here and there. If you want this to pass, you need to spend money. How about signs that are not “landscape green” and blend in and can barely be seen? You need something that pops and catches the eye, like a bright yellow sign with red lettering. This needs to be a “brand” – something highly recognizable.

    4.) Work with your architects to get a good artist’s rendering of a junior high building that looks conservative, is designed for future expansion, and use these points and images to sell your bond proposal. Too many people thought this was going to be another police station or ridiculously over-flashy school building with big pillars and other non-necessary architectural features. Hone it down and use that to sell it to the people who are paying for it! This goes back to the transparency that so many others have commented about in previous KWHI posts.

    5.) Keep in mind that this is a *negotiation* between the school and the taxpayer, pure and simple. Underscore negotiation. You can’t have unreasonable one-sided negotations, and this is what this came off as. If this was a trial balloon and over negotation for data collection purposes, then great job. If this was a bull-in-the-china-shop, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks approach, then not so great of a job.

    6.) Whether or not this was a purposeful trial balloon or a bad negotation, the next bond needs to be sold to the taxpayers as a compromise based on this failed bond: “OK, we realize the previous bond was too much, but we are willing to negotiate for only what we need to educate our kids in a safe environment – here’s the architectural rendering of this conservative, functional building thoughtfully designed for future expansion”.

    Honestly, I really think the bond committee could use a professional consulting firm next time to “firm up” (no pun intended) some of the above points and help guide them through this. This can be done with a little strategy employed.

    1. Excellently researched, worded, and put together! Get this person on the next bond committee!

  5. I wonder how much they will spend to “evaluate the reasons that led to the outcome and move from there”.
    This is the problem.
    Too many Cheifs, not enough Indians.
    Cut out more of the superfluous management and waste.
    If they cannot see that this was way, way too expensive, then there is truly a much bigger problem at the Brenham Independent School District then a badly maintained, poorly designed building.

    1. I agree with what you are saying about maintenance…If you drive by the current high school and see how poorly the building is being maintained, i.e. awnings are rusted, building needs to be painted and pressure washed, windows left open, and behind the building it looks like a scrap yard, I now understand how the current junior high has been falling apart….maybe we should fix the maintenance issue then worry about a new building…my opinion….

      1. BISD needs to man up their Maintenance Department. I see them riding around all the time. I know someone who left their job from there because they are Way To Laid Back! Make them do their jobs and see a turnaround in the improvements that need to be done.

  6. “Brenham ISD last passed a bond in 2012 for $25.9 million to build Alton Elementary School and renovate the middle school. Prior to that, the district passed a $10 million bond in 2004 to build Brenham Elementary School and a $23.6 million bond in 1994 to build a new high school and auditorium.”
    $25.9 million in 2012 is $32.46 million today.
    $10 million in 2004 is $15.34 million today.
    $25.9 million in 1994 is $46.09 million today.
    Add all those up and you get $93.89 million.
    Help me understand.

    1. The cost to build in 2022 is considerably more than it was in 2012. The idea of building a high school for $23 million in 2022 blows my mind. Most high schools these days are at least $100 million. The average cost to build an elementary in 2022 is about $45-$65 million.

  7. The bond proposal was massive and would have increased property taxes thereby increasing rents, costs of local goods and services, all residents would have been affected with higher living costs on top of the already rampant inflation. It is disheartening to be burdened with high school taxes then on top of that you have to pull your kid out because of bullies and also have the expense of home schooling your child, happened to us. Schools don’t have to look fancy like the high school does, much less costly metal school could be built for the Jr High and better salaries to attract and keep good teachers, that is more important than a fancy looking building, marching pads, etc. How about a new bond proposal with input from the community before the school board is ready to sell it?

  8. Well for one thing go with a needs only and not wants!! This is not the time with rising inflation and taxes to pass this. Have no problem with quality schools for kids, but it has gotten out of hand. EVERYTHING is rising, people are struggling!!

    1. Yes. But like all our taxes. They don’t care. Raise , raised and raise again. They work for us. But you go make a comment. Your shot down. They don’t take care of what we pay for. But the want us to pay more. I think they should all be voted out and we the people take over. My thoughts.

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