School district scales back on bond amount, commissioners approve order for November election

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After three joint meetings, the Crockett County Commissioners’ Court approved Monday calling for a $33.8 million bond election for the Crockett County Consolidated Common School District.

The bond election will be held Nov. 5.

The bond is for:

  • Demolish the three-story OHS Main Building, renovate the OHS Auditorium and construct new building for classroom, Ag Metal/Woodshop, library, band hall, career/technology courses and roof replacement for the OHS Davidson Gym and the Heritage Building.
  • New roof for OMS Building and Gym.

The school board cut down the amount from $40 million to the $33.8 million in order to reach an agreement with the commissioners’ court. The bond is also for 18 years, instead of 25 as originally proposed.

“I appreciate the work of the commissioners and our board. This is a big project. It is expensive, but it’s right for our kids and it goes to the voters,” Chavarria said.

Due to the school district being a common school district, the county commissioners must approve calling for a bond. Monday was the deadline to call for a bond election for November.

 “We are trying to get along with everybody and get everything done for the cheapest amount we can,” said Board President Dwight Childress.

“We’ve talked about it. Obviously not all of us agree on certain items. We’ve done our best to come to a consensus. We put a sincere effort into this,” added Board Vice President Orlando DeHoyos.

One item that was cut was renovation to the field houses at Lion Stadium. The district is facing a Title IX complaint over the girls’ field house being out of compliance.

Also cut was an auxiliary gym to be added on to the OHS Davidson Gym, as well as money for maintenance and transportation needs for the next 10-15 years in the district.

Last fall, the district closed the OHS Auditorium and the OHS Main Building due to severe water damage, mold and roof problems.

The school district has spent the past six-eight months conducting public meetings and forming a building committee about the bond.

The committee recommended the $40 million bond to take care of all the needs at the high school and around the district.

With a $40 million bond Chavarria said the district would not have to come back to the voters in the near future to call another bond.

At a joint meeting Friday, the commissioners all stated that the focus should be on the high school.

“I think that’s the most important need. That’s the main part of this,” Bunger said.

Many of the commissioners thought $40 million over a 25-year period was too high of an amount and too long, especially concerning the interest on the bond.  

“We all said we all agree to put it out for the people to decide. I think the school has lowered it down as we asked of them,” said Commissioner Frank Tambunga.

“That’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of things you all are wanting to do. Something that big should be decided by the people,” Bunger added.

If the bond passes, the $33.8 million will stay within the school district and not go to recapture.

Also, with changing the terms from 25 years to 18 years, the tax rate will increase to around $1.25 from the current rate of $1.20.  Chavarria said the district will front end the first years of the note with a higher tax rate to attack the principal.

The school district is banking on two windfarms, Ranchero and High Lonesome, that are already being constructed in the northern part of the county. A third windfarm, White Mesa, is aiming to start construction next year.

“If we don’t do this now, we will miss this opportunity with the windfarms,” Childress said.

The is the largest school district bond to be placed on the ballot in the last 20 years.

The 2008 bond election for the Ozona Elementary School was for $10 million.

The school district is also paying off two bonds right now.

The 2015 $3 million bond will be paid off in August 2020, and the 2018 $5 million bond will be paid off in 2026.

If the bond passes, the district is looking at a two to two and half year construction timeline.

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