The Howe Independent School District’s board of trustees recently called a $17 million bond election for the Nov. 7 ballot. The decision came after the board was presented with related current debt, tax rates and potential options for a bond election at a special meeting last month.
If the bond passes, the $17 million will be allocated for the first phase of a new elementary school. The school would serve Pre-K through second grade and have a capacity of around 350-400 students. Future plans include expansion for a larger capacity and the inclusion of third through fifth grades. Dallas-based Corgan Architecture was selected by the board to be the architecture firm for the project.
Howe Superintendent Kevin Wilson explained that the bond election was called in order to deal with overcrowding and aging facilities.
“It is primarily to address our growth and our current facilities,” Wilson said. “Our cafeteria was not designed for as many students as we are feeding right now. And our infrastructure was not designed to handle things like morning drop off and afternoon pick up with that many students and that many cars.”
Wilson said Howe Elementary has grown by 12.3 percent by adding 50 students for the new school year. Wilson explained the current elementary has very limited room for additional students and classrooms.
“Our elementary school is at capacity,” Wilson said. “As we continue to gain students throughout the year, we are going to be challenged to add any additional classrooms. We have already found a need for portable buildings. So, then we had to discuss a new building.”
The bond will be funded through an increase in the district’s tax rate. The rate will be increased from $1.395 per $100 valuation to $1.569 per $100 valuation for next year if the bond passes.
“Please also note that this projection is based on current assessed values,” Wilson said in an email. “If our values increase next year as expected, the tax rate will most likely decrease.”
Wilson explained the current value for the average home in Howe is around $156,000. He said a home of this value would see a $228.13 per year or $19.01 per month tax increase.
A schedule for bond informational events should be available within the next two weeks, Wilson said.
“We are currently in the process of planning some town hall meetings and meetings throughout the community,” Wilson said. “These are to try and explain the rationale about the bond.”