Birdville bond proposal worthy of support

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The charge to a bond committee of Birdville school district residents last year was direct, yet daunting: Access the needs of a district that includes all or part of seven cities and determine what is best for all 24,000 students and the current 33 campuses.

In a district with 12 schools built before 1950 and others requiring major facility and technological upgrades, the group soon had a long list of needs. From that list, Birdville officials fashioned a $183.2 million bond package that voters will address in a May 11 election.

The bond proposal, which also provides for additional security for all campuses, calls for replacing three schools that are 50 to 65 years old -- North Richland Middle, Smithfield Elementary and the Academy at West Birdville -- and building permanent structures to be used instead of more than 65 portable classrooms across the district.

Opposition to the package has arisen over a proposal to consolidate four older and smaller schools into two, both with new buildings. Some residents of Richland Hills object to closing Richland Elementary and merging it with Birdville Elementary on a site in Haltom City. The other proposed consolidation would combine Francisco and Smith elementary schools.

Superintendent Darrell G. Brown points out that in addition to saving the district $15 million in operating costs over 10 years, the consolidation ensures that "100 percent of those kids will go to a new school."

Other projects in the bond proposal include: technology improvements that focus on Internet connectivity, computers and mobile devices; replacing aging roofs, plumbing and heating and air-conditioning systems; and adding a horticulture and animal science facility to serve the three high schools.

If the package is approved, property taxes would increase 6.13 cents per $100 valuation, or about $4.35 a month on a home valued at $100,000. That seems a bargain for all that will be accomplished by this project.

It is understandable that some people may be disappointed by the closing of a school, particularly one seen as a community landmark. That proposal alone may be enough for some to vote against the entire package.

But the emphasis should be on what is best for the entire district, more particularly what is most beneficial for the students who will attend those schools.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting yes for the Birdville school district bond proposal.

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