JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — Board members of the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District voted 6-to-1 during its regular meeting Aug. 18 to call a bond election totaling $26.75 million on the Nov. 4 ballot.
If voters approve the bond, it could increase the 2015-2016 total tax rate by 7.9 cents. If passed, it will not impact the 2014-2015 tax rate, which the board approved during the same meeting.
Board member Craig Barefoot gave the only dissenting vote.
“I’m not against the bond,” he said after the open session ended. “I think we had some wants that we put in front of needs. I felt we didn’t do our due diligence in some places. We could cut corners. We put some wants in front of needs. I’ll leave it at that.”
Board President Andy Feild said he thought Barefoot might not vote for the bond.
“I just had a feeling,” he said. “You’d certainly like to have seven on anything we do. We have board operating procedures we agreed on in board meetings. We support the decision of the board.”
The president said the board’s decision to call a bond election goes back to doing what members believe is best for the community, especially its students.
Superintendent Keith McBurnett said he believed it was important the board be unanimous on the proposition.
Both noted the Community Advisory Committee — which was made up of 26 volunteer citizens — spent months walking the campuses of Burnet CISD, making notes and putting together a list of things it thought needed to be addressed.
“I trust the opinion of of the advisory committee,” McBurnett said.
Among the recommendations are:
• safety and security improvements to secure entryways, surveillance cameras, card readers, fencing, fire alarm systems and intercom upgrades totaling $1,601,782.
• mechanical, electrical and plumbing improvements to replace older air conditioning systems, upgrade the HVAC controls and lighting, renovate restrooms and improve sound and stage lighting at the Burnet Middle School Auditorium totaling $6,623,621.
• constructing a new classroom building and physical education storage additions at Shady Grove Elementary, additional parking spaces, disabled accessibility, multipurpose Career and Technical Education Shop at the Burnet High School and sidewalks totaling $6,449,910
• renovations at existing campuses such as parking, drainage improvements, replacing worn or damaged floors, walls and ceiling finishes; bird habitat control; exterior window or replacement at R.J. Richey Elementary; second serving line and kitchen improvements at Shady Grove, acoustics at seventh and eighth-grade building at BMS, expanding the art room at BHS, and installing artificial turf and a new eight-lane track at Bulldog Field totaling $4,446,635.
• roof repairs at select areas on each campus totaling $2,862,552.
• buying 10 new 77-passenger buses to replace the oldest buses in poor condition totaling $1,214,212
• upgrading infrastructure and deploy interactive white boards and student response devices totaling $928,927.
Sometimes boards choose to separate parts of the bond on a ballot to allow voters to pass one package and say no to another. But in this bond, the board is asking voters to consider the entire package.
“Everything is important in there for stated reasons,” the president said.
McBurnett, staff members and others helped trim millions of dollars off the original list to truly address needs of the school district, Feild said.
“We all hope it passes,” he said. “Since 2006, we’ve been short of funds (when the state legislature did not give public schools $4.5 billion).”
The Burnet CISD board also approved the 2014-2015 tax rate and budget. The board adopted a property tax rate of $1.2625 per $100 valuation ($1.04 for maintenance and operation and 22.25 cents for debt service). It’s the same rate as the previous one.