Voters in Howe overwhelmingly supported of a $17 million bond for the Howe Independent School District Tuesday. The bond proposition passed with 434 votes, or 71.74 percent, in favor and 171, or 28.26 percent, against.
“It is an exciting time for us and we are happy that the citizens of Howe are behind this project,” HISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson, who was chaperoning students in San Antonio, said via phone interview late Tuesday evening.
The bond funds will be used to finance the first phase of development for a new elementary school. This new school would serve students from prekindergarten through second grade with a capacity of about 400 students. The new facility would be built with expansion in mind for an increased capacity and the inclusion of additional grades if needed in the future.
With the addition of the new school, Howe ISD will be transitioning to the primary school model, with four tiers of schools. With the new facility focused on students up to second grade, what was now the elementary school will transition into an intermediate school for students in third and fourth grade.
With this change, Wilson said the district will be able to take some pressure off the current elementary school and the middle school, which share a cafeteria.
The need for a new elementary school comes as the district has experienced growth greater than was initially anticipated. District officials earlier this year said the district’s one elementary school saw a 12.3 percent growth when 50 students enrolled.
“While you may not see it in the number of houses, we are having a higher demand from our schools,” Howe ISD board member Bruce Dawsey said in a phone interview.
As an example of this growth, Dawsey said the district needed to create a new third class this year.
“Our elementary school is at capacity,” Wilson said previously. “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.”
Dawsey noted that with 605 votes cast, the turn out for this election was higher in Howe than in previous years. He attributed this strong turn out to the education campaign by the district and efforts to explain the process and impact of the bond.
The bond will be financed by an increase to the district’s tax rate. The rate will be increased from $1.395 per $100 of property valuation to $1.569 per $100. In August, Superintendent Kevin Wilson noted that the tax rate was based on current valuations and could go down if property values rise higher than expected.
Based on an average home price of $156,000, district officials said a home would see an increase of about $228.13 in taxes each year. This comes to about $19.01 per month in tax increases.
Dawsey said the district is still deciding on a location for the new school, but officials have three finalist locations that they are considering. Despite being early in the project, Dawsey said he hopes the district will have the new school open sometime in 2019 or 2020.