Bond Fails in Westwood
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON AND ANDERSON COUNTIES – Voters went to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to approve or reject 10 constitutional amendments to the Texas Constitution.
Perhaps of more importance locally, voters in the Lovelady and Westwood Independent School Districts were also asked to decide if they wanted to approve or reject bond initiatives.
The Lovelady ISD ballot measure gave voters the opportunity to vote for or against “The issuance of $7,500,000 of bonds by the Lovelady Independent School District for the construction, acquisition, renovation and equipment of school buildings in the district and the levying of the tax for payment thereof.”
The measure passed by a margin of 434 votes in favor of and 346 votes against.
The Westwood ISD ballot measure gave voters the opportunity to vote for or against “The issuance of $40,000,000 of bonds by the Westwood Independent School District for school facilities and the levying of a tax in payment thereof.”
The measure failed by a margin of 774 votes in favor of and 877 votes against.
According to a media release from the district, “Westwood ISD voters did not approve the proposed Bond 2019 that would address school conditions and buildings that are 40 to 80 years old. The WISD Facility Advisory Committee recommended the bond proposal after an eight-month planning process. Funds from the bond would have provided resources to build a new elementary school, add safety and security to schools, and renovate WHS to transform it into a comprehensive 6-12 campus.”
Preliminary results, which will become official on November 11th when the Westwood ISD Board of Trustees canvass the votes, show that only 46.8 percent of voters were in favor of the proposed bond package.
“The outcome is not what we had hoped for our students,” said Superintendent Wade Stanford. “This plan was designed by our community through the Facility Advisory Committee. We’ll need to bring that group of citizens back together to discuss and evaluate how best to move forward to address our escalating operational expenses to maintain plumbing, sewer, and electrical systems that are 40 to 80 years old.”
Westwood ISD has not had a Bond in more than 40 years. It has also maintained the same I&S tax rate for 20 years, finding ways to make minor capital improvements to school buildings by utilizing the district’s Fund Balance.
“We’ve diverted money away from instruction and into maintenance and facility costs,” said School Board President Dr. Don Rice. “It’s becoming more and more challenging to meet all of our facility needs while preparing college, career, and military ready students that can compete with their peers. Today’s education looks vastly different from when I was in school, and even when my children went through school. We have to think about future generations and how we are equipped to prepare them to be productive citizens.”
The district is evaluating the next steps. “We will continue to do what’s best for kids,” said Stanford. “We’ll reconvene the FAC while we do the best we can with the facilities and resources we have. It’s a journey our community has to take with us, and together we will develop a viable solution.”
Because the amendments are statewide and ballots were still being counted, vote tallies for the constitutional amendments were not available as of press time. For a complete wrap-up of the 2019 election, please check back online at www.messenger-news.com or see the Sunday, Nov. 10 edition of The Messenger Newspaper.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.