Sherman Independent School District laid out its strategic planning goals for the upcoming bond election at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday. The board also discussed the community communication plan leading up to the bond election for $176 million on Nov. 7.
Representatives of the district have started visiting community events in order to help people register to vote. SISD Director of Communication Emily Parks said one of the primary communication goals for the district is to inform the voters on where to vote, how to vote and when to vote.
“We learned a number of things from the last bond,” Parks said. “Sharing information, addressing misinformation and providing visuals — those three things went into setting our goals. We know from talking to the community that they want information to be available.”
The district is placing an emphasis on early voting, which begins Oct. 23. To help answer community questions and provide information before the vote, the district is holding community meetings from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12 at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and again Oct. 13 at noon at the service center.
Parks made it clear that the district will at no time try to influence voters for or against the bond. SISD Superintendent David Hicks said the next step for the district is to make sure the community is informed on the bond and what its intended use is.
“This bond election is a significant decision for our community,” Hicks said. “We know that these high school and technology improvements will be the foundation for academic opportunity for generations of kids. It’s critical that our community is knowledgeable and votes. We want the community to be involved.”
The $176 million bond package comes after their previous $308 million bond package failed by 144 votes last fall. The new package will feature districtwide technology updates, a new high school facility, and the reconfiguration of the middle schools and elementaries in making use of the old Sherman High School building. The new high school will have a capacity of 2,300 students and will be over 453,000 square feet in size. The cost for the new facility is estimated at $157,871,390.
The bond will be funded by a 21-cent increase in the tax rate. For those with a home valued at $100,000 this comes out to approximately an additional $17.50 per month. Tax rate increases were considered between 20 cents and 23 cents. The board settled at the 21-cent increase and said it would cover immediate concerns and allow some work to begin for the future.
Parks said it is the goal of the district to inform the community of the need for school funding. Board President Tim Millerick agreed, saying it is important for people to have access to information regarding what they are voting on.
“I just think facts are facts,” Millerick said. “There were some questions about things in the last go around with the bond. I think now that we’ve honed this down to what we think the majority of folks have told us that they want, we can be clearer with those facts. There’s also fewer moving parts this time around so it should be more clear on the top priorities.”
Information will be distributed in a variety of ways. The district plans to communicate through news media, handouts, mailers, social media, speaking engagements and community meetings. Events will be added to the district’s website as well as its Facebook page. For additional information and to request a speaking engagement or community event contact Emily Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sisdbond.com.