All the campaigning for and against is almost over. Early votes have all been cast.
Now, on Saturday, the fate of the $53.2 million bond proposal for the Aledo Independent School District will be decided.
Actually, this time it's two proposals, and after those who have not already voted do Saturday, folks will know whether one, both or none were passed.
Last November, voters rejected a similar bond proposal of $61.3 million - all in the same package. The Aledo 2025 Committee went back to work, did some restructuring, and broke their proposal into two packages, one for $28.8 million that will focus on a new elementary school, and another for $24.4 million that will focus on technology, new school buses, safety and security, and construction and renovation within existing facilities.
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But whatever the outcome, Aledo Superintendent Dr. Derek Citty and the school board have been working feverishly to make sure voters know what they will be deciding.
"Whichever way they vote, we want them to be informed and make a decision based on that," Citty said.
Jay Stringer, AISD Board of Trustees President, said “most people don't understand school finances."
"They don't understand the difference between an M & O (Maintenance and Operations account) and an I & S (Interesting and Sinking fund tax rate)," he said.
The M & O account takes care of items such as day-to-day operations, teacher salaries and paying bills, Stringer said, whereas the I & S covers debt, which must be incurred to build facilities.
"Think of that as a home mortgage," he said. "You can't just start building a home without a mortgage in most cases."
To help educate folks on what is in the bond proposals, what they mean and all the financial connections, AISD held three community town hall gatherings. Also, AISD officials met with local ministers, community members in their homes (upon invitation, of course), AISD staff members, and soon-to-graduate seniors.
"We owe it to those young folks to let them know what they will be voting for," Citty said.
Among discussions with the public, Citty ensures homeowners who are 65 years and older that they have a state-required tax freeze.
“We want to remind voters who have applied for and received the Over 65 Homestead Exemption to know that the amount of their school taxes will not be affected by the outcome of this bond election,” Citty said.
But they have been careful not to try and persuade folks which way to vote. The reason for all of the meetings is solely to educate citizens before they go to the polls. And Stringer said the public was eager to learn.
"A lot of good questions were asked," Stringer said of the town hall meetings. "I feel like people left more informed."
The proposals do not include the cost of land on which to place the new elementary school, however, with the newest district growth projected to be in the upcoming Walsh Ranch development, the school is expected to be built on land donated within that development.
The entire Aledo 2025 Committee's vision includes the need for another three elementary schools to be constructed in 2019, 2021 and 2023 with a third middle school to be added in 2020. Those are not included in this bond proposal.
On Election Day, the AISD Administration Building will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.