BY BRIAN BESCH
GOODRICH -- On Feb. 18, the Goodrich ISD board unanimously to submit two bonds for voter approval in an effort to sustain the district. Both will appear on the ballot during the district’s May elections.
The board chose to go with $3 million in bonds rather than the $4 million or $5 million options that were on the table. The idea was to make the bond as affordable as possible for taxpayers.
The money will still allow the district to attack the biggest areas of need, which include roofs, buses, science labs, windows and doors.
“If this bond doesn’t pass, I don’t know where we are going to go,” Goodrich Superintendent Dr. Gary Bates told an auditorium of teachers on Wednesday. “If they (taxpayers) don’t want to pay Goodrich taxes, I guarantee you in eight to 10 years, they are going to be paying Livingston’s taxes, because there won’t be a Goodrich ISD.”
The bonds will likely be split with $500,000 earmarked for debt the district accumulated last year when work was done on roofing and an HVAC system that was sinking into the ground at the time. The other $2.5 million will go toward current issues.
The largest priority at the time seems to be reliable transportation.
“Our buses are breaking down left and right and we’re putting a lot of money into our buses,” Bates said. “With all the money we have put into them, we could almost purchase a new bus. We have seven busses right now and we are hoping to try to get three new buses. That would be a game changer for us. We have a few buses that can still stay in our fleet, but three new buses would really work for our district.”
With the bond money, there would also be an opportunity to finish roofing the remainder of the district’s buildings. Some work done prior to last year was for the most severe leaks in the roof.
The superintendent, who is in his second year at Goodrich, said there is also a want for new doors and windows so the schools can be more energy efficient, saving money in the long-term.
“Its not a lot that we are asking if you look at schools across the state of Texas,” Bates said. “Some are asking for $100 million bonds. We are asking for $3 million. If you live in Goodrich in a $100,000 home, it will cost you an extra $148. If you do that by the month, that is about $12.30 per month extra — that’s a meal. We are hoping the community will support this and we are trying to stay in the game. Goodrich kids deserve that.”
Bates said students are supposed to be in labs for science about 80 percent of the time, which is not happening. The school is attempting to outfit two science labs, one in the elementary with the other in the secondary school.
“Our science labs at the elementary and high school are horrendous. We want to get state-of-the-art science labs, so our kids will be able to go in and participate in labs.
“Our gases and chemicals are so outdated, our kids are not able to utilize the science labs. Teachers are having to improvise with their own money, trying to buy supplies. If you look at the STAAR test, it is very hard to do the work in the classroom versus a lab.”
What is left of the money will be spent on bathrooms and an updated marquee.
The school district will attempt to utilize a variety of opportunities to get information to the taxpayers and voters of the district during the coming weeks. Churches, city council meetings and open forums are just a few already planned.
“We are hoping the community will step forward and decide that our kids are just as important as the kids to the north and south of us,” Bates said. “We have not had a bond from what I understand. There was one that went before the community many years ago and it failed. No one likes to have taxes increased, but research shows it’s better to educate our kids and give them the resources to be successful. We are not building any new buildings and we’re not building any basketball gymnasiums. All we are trying to do is maintain our district. We have a very old district and we are trying to keep our facilities upgraded.”
Currently, residents paying school taxes in Goodrich with a $100,000 home give a total of $1,170 per year, whereas those in Livingston forfeit $1,390. If both bonds pass, that total for Goodrich residents would increase to $1,318.
“Usually when I have issues or concerns, I have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C,” Bates said. “On this one, I don’t. It’s kind of like your home. When you have needs in your home or on your roof or plumbing repairs, you don’t put it off. You fix it first. That’s basically what we are doing here in our district. If it doesn’t pass, I don’t know and I hate to say that, because I like to come up with viable solutions.”