BONHAM, TX - The 2009 Bonham Independent School District bond election could mean sweeping changes for the city's schools, if taxpayers vote yes. Superintendent Sonny Cruse says the improvements are badly needed in the district.
"I don't believe that anyone in our community can walk through our schools and leave them thinking they don't need better for their kids," said Cruse of the condition of the schools.
The price tag on that improvement is $40 million, which Cruse admits is a lot of money, but worth every penny.
"We have basically six instructional facilities in our district, four of those six are well over 30 years of age, a couple of them are over 50, so some of our facilities are not meeting the needs of our students," said Cruse.
Bonham resident Arthur Chaney says the school buildings are just like a house, after so much time there needs to be repairs and rebuilding.
"We've got to keep things up, we can't go on forever without some improvements," said Chaney.
Roughly half of the money will be spent on Bonham High School, expanding the campus, adding another gym, new library and science labs to meet state standards. Cruse also wants to get rid of all the portable buildings that are used at many of the district’s schools.
"I think it'll set us up really nicely in the future, it'll give us some room to grow, alleviate some of the overcrowding we have right now," said Cruse.
If approved, taxes will increase by about $30 per month for the average tax-payer. The question is... Will residents vote yes to paying more?
"We don't know if they will, but we won't know until we ask,” explained Cruse. “As superintendent and the board of trustees it’s our job to advocate for our children, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Cruse says the only way you can build schools is to ask your community to support you in that endeavor, and the only way to do that is with tax dollars.
And some residents in Bonham say they're willing to give their schools that support.
"We want our kids to have the best possible surroundings, you know, in order to feel safe and get educated. I think the better the surroundings the better the education will be,” said Elbert Burley.
No one we talked to today opposed the bond election, and most said they would vote for it. But for those who are still on the fence or would like to learn more about the referendum, there will be an open forum for the community next Monday, September 28, at 6:00 p.m. at I.W. Intermediate.
To see an online brochure overlooking the proposed bond, visit http://www.bonhamisd.org.
Election day is November 3, 2009, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Early voting runs from October 19 to October 30. The last day to register to vote on the bond election is October 5th.