Early voting begins Monday, school district bonds on the ballot for some Central Texas

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 12:05 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Monday is the first day of early voting across the state, and while there isn’t a national election this year, there are some important items on the ballot.

In addition to the eight constitutional amendments, some voters, including in the Waco and Temple school districts, will also have to consider bond packages.

In Waco, the $355 million bond would fund the replacement of four schools—Waco High School, G.W. Carver Middle School, which burned down earlier this year, Tennyson Middle School and Kendrick Elementary School.

The bond would also fund renovations and expansion at South Waco Elementary School.

The bond Waco ISD voters will see on the ballot is a little different from the initial plan. The amount decreased from $367.1 million to $355 in anticipation of insurance money the district will get to cover the damage from the fire at Carver Middle School.

DeBeer said while the amount hasn’t been finalized yet, the estimate the district received from the insurance company is for around $17 million.

Kyle DeBeer, chief of staff for Waco ISD, said the tax rate would increase about 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For the average homeowner, with a house worth around $130,000, that’s an increase of about $11 a month.

Waco ISD says this is a big decision for the district, and they want to hear from voters.

“There are a lot of important decisions related to this election, not just building the schools but also then what that means for students and the opportunities that are available for them so we want to hear from everyone,” DeBeer said.

Central Texans living within the boundaries for Temple ISD will also have to consider a bond proposal. Temple’s bond, for nearly $185 million, would fund projects in four different areas.

Dr. Bobby Ott, superintendent for Temple ISD, said the districts priorities are preparing for future growth, safety and security, ensuring program equity and completing some projects from the master plan.

That includes a new elementary school, getting rid of modular classrooms at several campuses, adding security vestibules at some schools and updates to the football stadium, among other projects.

Dr. Ott said it’s been several years since the district brought a bond proposal before voters, and the tax rate, even with the bond included, is lower than it was in 2018, and lower than other areas in Central Texas. If the bond passes, tax rates would go up 12.5 cents, which is about $10 a month for a home worth $100,000.

Both districts say there have been a lot of community involvement, but it’s still important for voters to head to the ballot box.

“I would say voter complacency is probably one of the biggest issues that school districts contend with in a November election,” Dr. Ott said. “I would certainly encourage people to exercise their right to vote.”

“Our hope is that everyone has their voice heard and everyone turns out to vote,” DeBeer said. “We think that this is a big decision for Waco ISD, and so we want to hear through this election from as many voters as possible.”

If the bonds don’t pass, both districts say they will take a look at voter feedback and formulate a new plan. Temple ISD said due to significant growth, the district needs a new elementary school.

“This is the first time that Temple ISD has grown in 30 plus years,” Dr. Ott said. “At this point, we don’t have a place to put students in the southeast quadrant.”

“Some of the projects that we’re talking about are projects that the district can’t complete without bond funding,” DeBeer said.

Early voting runs through Oct. 29, and Election Day is Nov. 2.

McLennan County Early Voting Locations:

- McLennan County Elections Administration Office -- (basement) 214 N 4th St, Suite 300 Waco, TX 76701

- Robinson Community Center – 106 W. Lyndale Ave Robinson, TX 76706

- Waco Multi-Purpose Community Center – 1020 Elm Ave Waco, TX 76704

- First Assembly of God Church – 6701 Bosque Blvd Waco, TX 76710

- Hewitt City Hall/Library -- 200 Patriot Court Hewitt, TX 76643

Dates and times:

- Monday, October 18, 2021 through Friday, October 22, 2021 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

- Monday, October 25, 2021 through Wednesday, October 27, 2021 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

- Thursday, October 28, 2021 through Friday, October 29, 2021 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Bell County Early Voting Locations:

- Belton - Bell County Courthouse Annex, 550 East 2nd Ave

- Killeen - Bell County Annex, 304 Priest Drive

- Killeen -Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd

- Temple - Bell County Annex, 205 East Central Ave

- Salado - Salado Church of Christ, 217 North Stagecoach

- Harker Heights - Parks & Recreation Center, 307 Millers Crossing

Dates and times:

- October 18, 2021 thru October 22, 2021 (Monday - Friday) 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

- October 23, 2021 (Saturday) 7:00 am - 7:00 pm

- October 24, 2021 (Sunday) 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

- October 25, 2021 thru October 29, 2021 (Monday - Friday) 7:00 am - 7:00 pm

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