LIVE OAK, Texas – Across Texas, securing schools is on the ballot during this November’s election.
Judson ISD board members’ discussion of added safety measures began shortly after the Robb Elementary Shooting on May 24.
The discussions resulted in a $345.3 million election bond, with a tax rate increase of $0.01.
“The board and I were very conscious of making sure that this was not going to be a burden to our community and our stakeholders,” said Dr. Jeanette Ball, Judson ISD superintendent of schools. “This $0.01 would be approximately about $15 a year for a home that’s valued at about $150,000, so it’s a minimal tax increase.”
Voters will decide on two propositions: Prop A and Prop B.
Prop A, which would benefit all Judson ISD campuses, addresses safety and security, including radios for police officers.
“We’ve all learned a lot from Uvalde and the importance to be able to communicate and make sure we’re all on the same frequency,” Ball said. “(Prop A includes) everything from updating fences, updating cameras, updating technology for the cameras (and) making sure that we have secure entrances.”
According to Ball, the cameras and security alone are quoted to cost more than $3 million. But it isn’t just about preventing shootings.
“This is also about keeping our students safe, whether it’s fights or bullying,” Ball said. “The more cameras we have, the better investigations that we can do, the better we can monitor our students, bring that up and see who is really at fault.”
Prop A also includes installing air conditioning systems at 17 school gymnasiums.
“It’s very hard to secure a gym when you have to keep all the doors open for ventilation,” Ball said. But if we were to have our gyms air-conditioned, we can lock those doors and better secure our students in our campuses instead of having all the doors open.”
Prop B of the 2022 bond includes added bus transportation and a new elementary and middle school, as enrollment has increased by 1,200 students this year.
“Our goal is to not have portables but to have a building where all our students can be under one roof,” Ball said.
After last year’s bond failed at the polls, Ball said the need and costs have also increased.
“Last year, we were going to build a middle school, and that was at $70 million to build that same exact middle school,” Ball said. According to a spokesperson for the school district, that same construction is now quoted at $106 million.
If the bond passes, Ball said the bidding processes would begin immediately.
“We already (have) the quotes,” Ball said. “We have things in place that we could take to the board, have our bond approved, sell the bond, and immediately start to make differences and changes.”
For more on the 2022 bond, including the campus-specific projects, click here.