Pottsboro voters struck down a base $54.7 million bond package Tuesday, as well as a higher priced option meant to update aging and increasingly crowded facilities throughout the Pottsboro Independent School District. In the final tally of the election, 1,156 people voted against the $54.7 million bond proposal and 567 voted in favor of it.
The proposed package included a new elementary school; districtwide technology upgrades; and renovations and additions to the middle school, high school, athletic facilities, and the old intermediary school, which would have been converted into the district’s new administration building. Voters also struck down a secondary proposition to add a $4 million, multipurpose athletic facility. Had voters approved the $54.7 million package, the district’s interest and sinking tax rate would have grown from its current 11 cents to 39 cents, placing the overall tax rate at $1.43 per $100 property valuation.
“We definitely still have needs,” Pottsboro ISD Superintendent Kevin Matthews said in a phone interview after the final results had come in. “That’s why we spent the last two years reviewing and looking at our facilities and student needs. We’ll go back and continue to look at that and have conversations with people to identify exactly what the vision of the community moving forward is. We’ll try to develop the best package to address our needs and benefit our district.”
Under the base package, a new $27 million elementary school stood as the largest and most expensive of the projects. The campus was slated for construction on Franklin Street with a connection to Clement Court and would have encompassed more than 87,000 square feet.
The district’s middle school would have received a $15.6 million face-lift, including the construction of 13 new classrooms and a storm shelter within a 20,000-square-foot addition.
Pottsboro High School was positioned to receive $6.4 million in renovations and additions, under the bond. The updates included a 5,000-square-foot addition for career and technology education spaces, an art studio and a storm shelter — all to the tune of $3.7 million. The remaining updates included a $2.3 million renovation and addition to the school’s field house and $700,000 for a new parking lot on the campus’ north side and four new tennis courts.
The package was rounded out by a $2.5 million upgrade of technology infrastructure and digital devices, $700,000 in improvements to the football stadium, $1 million in general renovations and paving projects and a $1.5 million conversion of the old intermediary school into the district’s new administration building.
Some opponents of the bond placed signs in their yards criticizing the package’s price tag and projects. Signs read “PISD wants to sell us a Cadillac, but all we need is a Chevrolet.” Former Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum, a vocal opponent of the bond on social media, did not respond to a request for comment.
When asked why he thought the majority of voters opposed the bond, Matthews said, “I don’t want to speculate at this point. I know the tax increase, as with any election, was obviously considered. But beyond that, I really don’t have a comment.”
The Pottsboro ISD School board was first presented with a $61 million bond package by the district-assembled Community Facility Team in February. Following the group’s presentation, the trustees opted not to call a May bond election and instead spent the next five months discussing projects and considering costs. With the exception of member Jody Lipscomb, who was absent from the board vote in August, board members unanimously approved calling the election.
Matthews thanked the school board, the Community Facility Team and district administrators for their efforts in developing the bond package.
“Everybody involved did their due diligence and worked very hard,” Matthews said. “And they’ll, I expect, continue to work that hard in coming up with the best solution to meet our needs.”
School board member Brett Graham said that was exactly what he and his fellow trustees would do in the months ahead.
“The result doesn’t change the community’s resolve to provide our children with an education that will allow them to succeed in life,” Graham said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “That is what we all want.”