With the upcoming election of a bond for the school district, there leaves a lot to be questioned about the need or the necessity of the bond. The bond is broken into two propositions that will be voted on, early voting beginning April 24th until May 2nd and election day Saturday, May 6th. The two part break down of the bond that totals 130 million dollars. Proposition A, the only part of the bond that increases tax values to residents of Pampa under the age of 65, is to make immediate upgrades to the schools. The first proposition; Prop. A is a bond of 62 million that will build a state-of-the-art CTE (Career and Technology Education) Facility at Pampa High School that will further advance the careers of young students coming out of PHS and into the workforce. The current CTE building is out dated by many lengths, 90-95% of all students go through the CTE daily for any number of courses ranging from Computer Education to Welding. After graduation nearly 60% of graduates go into the workforce and never seek the next level of education. With trade schools offering opportunities to go into work fields, Pampa High tries to accommodate and create opportunities to help students. The current state of the CTE doesn’t allow students to get the full benefits or experience they could be getting before going out into the world.
Collin Rains is a mother of two, both kids who will attend Pampa ISD. Rains serves on the PAC (Political Action Committee) as the Co-Chairman. The committee is advocating for the passage of the bond to upgrade our schools and to better equip our students.
“This committee is made up of people who have students in the school district and some that don’t,” Rains said. “We want to see growth and advancement for our students in Pampa but we know that there is concern with what this bond would mean for home owners.”
For homeowners over the age of 65, that have filed for and received their ‘Over 65 Homestead Exemption’ through the Gray County Appraisal District will not be affected in any way.
“The tax increase is not a steep hill that members of the community should be worried about,” Rains said. “For example, a home that is valued at $100,000 would have an increase at a monthly rate of $20.54.”
The second part of the Prop. A is the upgrades to Travis Elementary that members of Pampa, if the bond is passed, will see working beginning as early as the summer of 2023. The upgrades to Travis include a total renovation of the front half of the school, with portables being on site to house students until completion. Once completed, the students will then move into the habitable part of Travis and renovations will be done to the second half of the school. All parts taking place as early as the summer ahead of the next school year. When the planning committee met earlier last year, the basis was to examine all schools and evaluate what was priority. The average age of one of our four elementary schools is 67 years old, leaving the schools extremely outdated and past their prime.
“A common question is why isn’t maintenance keeping up the schools,” Rains said. “Our maintenance department does a phenomenal job of keeping up our schools as best as they can, but the schools are so dated that it doesn’t eliminate the problem when patch work is done to a school.”
In our surrounding towns, Dumas ISD passed a bond for 100 million to complete the build of three brand new elementary schools.
“We have towns around us that are making these same improvements,” Rains said. “Which leads to wonder why we shouldn’t do the same thing. Pampa is an amazing town with amazing people, but our schools shouldn’t be so far behind of other towns our size.”
Now, Proposition B, the second part, is not a bond that will effect home owners in any way. Prop. B is a bond that has to be passed at the same time as it’s counterpart, but won’t go into effect unless the economic growth in Pampa reaches the required level. With incoming companies that plan to grow into Pampa vastly, like Proman or Keystone. When the time comes for it to take affect, the bond would bring in additional safety and security to all schools, renovations and additions to the pre-k and 1st grade campuses. Improvements and new Band, Choir and Theater spaces at the high school, and a new athletic indoor practice/rehearsal facility at the high school. Pampa would also gain a new Ag farm complex, a program that is extremely important to the Texas Panhandle that our current facilities don’t meet the standards. Maintenance of HVAC in schools, new buses and transportation facility, updates to traffic flow at schools to help bring a solution that the campuses face as well as new technology to the district in a monumental way.
“Proposition B will not affect the people of Pampa in a increase in any way,” Rains said. “The bonds cannot be sold unless there is more business or economic growth is added to the tax rate.”
The State of Texas put into effect Chapter 313 that is a tax abatement to entice industries to come into a community. Pampa ISD signed into Chapter 313 with Proman, which is an agreement with the business and the school district to bring expansion. Proman entered in with a 1.2 billion dollar expansion that would double the tax rate of the city and school district.
“With that agreement, if Proman goes ahead with their expansions, it will not cost residents or existing businesses a single penny,” Rains said. “That’s based on if Proposition B is voted yes. Proman and another business that Pampa ISD has signed an agreement with, if voted yes on Proposition B those businesses will pay for the upgrades listed in the plans for Proposition B.”
The given example of a tax increase on a $100,000 home, would be the only tax increase that residents of Pampa would see. While they are going to be voted on separately at the same date, Proposition B doesn’t go in effect unless these business agreements are met. But for the sake of time, both bonds are going to be voted on at the same time.
“We have spent the last 30 months working on both of these,” Rains said. “So we want to see both passed at the same time to get the ball rolling for Proposition A immediately. Proposition B was decided to be added to the ballot to save time. We don’t want to have to go back and do all the ground work again when the time comes, we would be missing out on some of the tax dollars that these companies would be generating.”
The committee meets every Thursday night at 7 at the Pampa EDC building located at 200 N. Ballard.
“We are all volunteers, so we’d gladly take more,” Rains said. “We want to see the best for our kids. Why don’t they deserve better?”
The committee meets to discuss the bond election, but is also available to answer questions for those that are still unsure of some facts of the bonds.
All information on the bond can be found on the Pampa ISD website or by calling the administration for information on where to look at (806) 669-4700.
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