A good clarification here by Jane Wolf on the difference between MISD's Maintenance and Operations (M&O) budgets (and more importantly, the restrictions placed on them by the state) and Interest and Sinking Fund budgets (I&S) used for capital improvements. It should help a couple of those who have submitted letters to the editor on the school bond issue.
It should more than answer Mr. Briley Mitchell's concern:
"In correspondence with Mr. Strauss, he has stated that MISD is already at the maximum state tax rate allowed for maintenance and operations. This is something that I am not only confused about, but need real, hard evidence and answers on."
Alas, Mr. Josh Knight wanders in a logical wasteland:
"First, this bond election's three propositions are not, in reality, three separate choices for consideration. As reported, MISD acknowledges that Propositions 2 and 3 won't be considered unless Proposition 1 passes first."It is four separate choices actually....the fourth being a No vote. But I am being over technical. Later in his letter (below) Mr. Knight asks what are the priorities? The short answer is, obviously, the items in Proposition One.
"By creating this unnecessary symbiosis, MISD has again given Midland voters a Take-It-All or Leave-It-All proposal. At close to $166 million to be spent in only three years, many voters may choose to leave it all. Even though the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) reported on all MISD facilities, why does MISD have to adopt an all-now proposal? Exactly what are the priorities?"
It is not a take it or leave it proposal at all. The committee has specifically laid out what the most pressing priorities are (spread across eight schools) and placed them into Proposition One. Proposition Two expands on that with some newer facilities for performing arts classrooms and physical education (no, not new stadium stuff but dressing facilities et al for the rest of the kids) instead of renovated and updated older facilities. Proposition Three expands on the previous two even further and includes a new Midland High School at its current location. The way it is being presented to the voters is anything but an all or nothing package.
"Second, the three propositions, as presented, don't represent realistic financial management. For example, Proposition 1 establishes $19.46 million to renovate the current Midland Senior High (MHS) facilities, while Proposition 3 separately establishes $45.64 million to build a completely new facility on campus. Not only do these two proposals cancel each other out, but according to CFAC's online reports (http://www.midlandcfac.org/), MHS's existing facilities cannot meet current academic and safety standards even with extensive renovations -- only new facilities will suffice. Why spend $20 million to renovate a campus deemed unrepairable? Or, why waste $20 million for an ineffective patch?"
Of course Proposition One and Three don't cancel each other out. Should both Prop One and Three pass does he think that the school district will renovate Midland High School and then tear it down to build a new one? He needs to recognize that there will be some consolidation of costs depending on the passage of Prop Two or Prop Three. As far as MHS facilities not currently (or even after a theoretical passge of just Prop One) meeting state standards, he is correct on that. But that is why there is a Prop Two and Three.
"As stated before, MISD does not present the bond election originally promised. Instead of a cornucopia of projects and proposals to rank and choose from, voters must either accept or reject everything at once."
A cornucopia of projects? Never mind the added design and construction costs that would be incurred in doing these kinds of major renovations across an entire school district using Mr. Knight's "cornucopia" model, I can't even picture the ballot for such nonsense. The proponents are providing three viable options each with a different level of scope and cost with their stated highest priorities right up front in Prop One. I can't get why he thinks this is an all or nothing deal.