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ROISD tries to communicate better on new bond package

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ERIC CORNELISON
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RED OAK - Red Oak community members voted against a $90 million bond package last year and are faced with another package adding up to $95 million on this year's ballot in May.

Red Oak Independent School District was hoping better communications would persuade the voters in this year's election to approve the bond package recommended by a 40-member community group made up of five different communities including Glenn Heights, Ovilla, Pecan Hill, Oak Leaf and Red Oak.

ROISD school board president John Hawkins said, 'There is a real need because all of the facilities are filled to capacity or near capacity.'

District leaders said last year's defeat was because of sticker shock.

A $16 million bond election in 1999 had been the largest previous bond and voters approved a $14 million bond program in 2002 and now it is $95 million along with the $53 million bond election called by the Ellis County Commissioners Court for new criminal and civil courts and a new detention center places a decision on the citizens in these communities.

The current district has approximately 5,500 students and was growing about nine percent per year.

Within five years the district was expected to be about 7,000 students.

The new high school would have a capacity for 2,400 students with the potential to expand for an additional 400 students if needed.

The old high school would become the new junior high school and the current junior high would become a second intermediate school.

Residents would see approximately a three-cent increase from the $1.51 per $100 valuation in the district's tax-rate over the two years of the bond sales.

Red Oak officials were saying as an example an owner of a $150,000 house would see an annual property tax increase of about $40. The Red Oak bond package addresses the need for facilities, maintenance and renovations according to Hawkins and the sports facilities were not a major player in this bond election.

'We need to share with the community the needs of the district if we are going to ask for their help,' said Hawkins.

The 40-member growth committee is made up of residents, district staff and two board members and assessed the district's needs last year.

Based on those findings the school board voted in February to call for the bond election.

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