Birdville, Keller school district bond plans should be approved

Early voting has been heavy in the Birdville and Keller school district bond elections.

That’s great. Residents of both of these districts should be focused on the needs of their public schools.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has recommended approval of both bond packages.

Through Tuesday, after nine days of early voting, 9,863 Birdville voters had cast early ballots. That’s up significantly (28 percent) from the 7,715 who voted early and on Election Day in the district’s failed bond election in 2013.

In Keller, 13,082 district residents had voted early through Tuesday. The district’s last bond election was in 2008.

Early voting ends Friday. Election Day is Tuesday.

Birdville is asking voters to consider spending $163.2 million to rebuild three schools, upgrade technology and improve security.

The new debt would cost the owner of a $120,000 home an additional $36 a year in property taxes. School property tax bills for people 65 and older are frozen.

The schools to be rebuilt are The Academy at West Birdville, Birdville Elementary and North Richland Middle, three of 17 BISD schools built in the 1950s and ’60s.

That number alone should tell Birdville residents that their school district has been frugal for decades.

But North Richland Middle alone has 300 students in portable buildings throughout the day. It’s time to make some improvements.

The Keller district’s $169.5 million bond proposal would pay for construction of three schools, for renovation and expansion of another to serve as a career training center, expansion of Keller High School and upgrades of security and technology.

By law, Keller can’t go higher on its tax rate for debt service. The district’s bonded indebtedness is high because it built 22 new campuses in 12 years to meet the demands of rapid enrollment growth.

The district serves 34,000 students, which is twice the enrollment figure in 2000.

Opposition to the Birdville and Keller proposals has come from a group that urges rejection of all additional public debt.

Residents should reject that shallow thinking and approve reasonable proposals to keep their schools from going downhill.

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