by Victor Lopez
ANDREWS-- School officials in Andrews hope a 33 million dollar bond will help them through the proposed budget cuts in Austin and they hope to do it without tapping into taxpayers wallets.
The money could help get them through proposed budget cuts out of Austin. School officials say it can do so without tapping into taxpayers wallets and comes at just the right time.
"We've talked to them, in Austin, and everything coming from them is not good news," Dr. Bobby Azam, Superintendent of Schools in Andrews, said.
Ector, Midland, Crane and Andrews are just a few of the local districts feeling the pinch from the budget cuts in Austin. All are dreading having to make cuts of their own. Andrews already has a plan in place to make up some of the difference.
"About a year and a half ago, we started toying with the idea of a bond election and to use that money to offset our regular budget by purchasing technology, facility upgrades and transportation. Purchasing them through the bond money rather than budgeting them through the regular operational budget that we've done year after year," Azam explained.
In the past, Andrews ISD has paid out as much as $20 million a year in Robin Hood funds to Austin. This year, that was cut down to $16 million. An amount they'll still have to pay, even when faced with losing between $3.9 million and $6 million dollars in state funding.
According to Dr. Azam, "That type of cut, that type of hit, in one budget year, is significant."
Like most school districts in West Texas, oil and gas production is what makes Andrews property wealthy. The plan behind passing the bond is to not only provide what the district needs to get by today, but ensure they have the tools they need to be able to compete tomorrow.
"Facility upgrades and buildings and technology, those types of issues, we can use bond money for," Azam confirmed.
If passed, the bonds would be sold a bit at a time, every four or five years, instead of all at once. Dr. Azam says this will provide everything the district needs and also help local taxpayers too, "By taking this plan and spreading it out over about a 10 year life span, it doesn't increase anyone's tax rate this year, next year or the next year. It basically keeps that tax rate flat."
The bond is expected to go before voters during the May general election. If it's not passed, Dr. Azam says the district will be okay. The bond money will just make sure that it is, "Regardless of what the state does or does not do for us, this will help us maintain our current educational system here in Andrews."