HALTOM CITY -- Voters in the Birdville school district will soon decide whether to approve a $183.2 million bond package to fund security improvements and upgrades to science and technology labs.The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to call a bond election for May 11.One of the proposals ruffled feathers in Richland Hills because part of the bond package calls for consolidating four elementary schools. Richland Elementary would close and merge with the larger Birdville campus in Haltom City, and W.T. Francisco students would attend Smith Elementary, also in Haltom City.Birdville and Smith would be rebuilt as part of the bond package.Several Richland Hills residents criticized the proposal to close Richland Elementary."I wish you would reconsider this bond and leave our school alone," said David White, a member of a citizens group opposed to the school closing. Another resident, Travis Malone, said he is concerned that closing Richland would lead to lower property values.However, Sharon Mylius, who served on the citizens bond committee, said the entire district will have better Wi-Fi and computer access if the bond proposal is approved. "We need new science labs," she said. "This must be for our students to meet mandates."Board President Ralph Kunkel said that he understands the concerns about closing Richland but that a decision had to be made."I don't blame residents for expressing their wants to keep their school open," Kunkel said, adding that combining schools saves money and provides more programs for children than are available at the smaller elementaries.A citizens group, Keep Richland Open, opposed the plan, saying students would be in overcrowded classrooms and would have to be bussed out of their neighborhood.
Total amount: $183,123,267
Property tax increase: $4.35 per month on a home valued at $100,000. Senior citizens 65 and over will not see a tax increase.
School consolidations: $33.60 million
Security: $2.82 million
Technology improvements: $29.57 million
Science labs: $15.54 million
Rebuild North Richland Middle: $28.50 million
Rebuild Smithfield Elementary: $13.75 million
Rebuild Academy at West Birdville: $16.80 million
Source: Birdville school district