La Feria News

Demanding Transparency and a Better Financial Plan


Letter to the editor:

As we approach the LFISD bond election on May 7, 2016, here are a few reasons why we are vehemently opposing the current $14 Million dollar proposition.

We are NOT against any and all bond requests.

What we are against is the lack of transparency and the ever changing dollar amounts that have been presented by this Administration in different documents.

Take for example the initial cost estimate for CE Vail renovations:
Initially it was a $7 Million dollars price tag.
Upon further review the cost jumped to $10 Million dollars.
When questioned about it, school officials had no coherent answer.

The cost of the AG building:
Initially $750,000.
Upon further review the cost jumped to $1.5 Million dollars.
Again no answer on why the change….just the standard “it’s for contingency and soft cost.”

This is only the first phase of the bond request that is being proposed.  In another two years there will be another $14 Million dollars or more request; to patch up some other buildings or to complete other frugal projects?

We don’t agree with the decision to spend $10 Million dollars to “renovate” CE Vail and to demolish a couple of old buildings. Why spend this kind of money to patch up CE Vail?  We have been pushing the idea of building a BRAND NEW Vail in order to have the best facilities available to ALL of our students.  This would, of course, require for the administration and school board to get the community involved at so many different levels. The good thing is that the leadership has two years of preparation time before the next IFA money becomes available to school districts.

Coincidentally, the next proposed request for bond money comes on the two year timeline that IFA funds are typically accounted for in the state budgets.  This Administration is selling IFA as a onetime deal that may never come again.  We need to jump on it; we cannot turn this gift down.  The truth of the matter is that IFA funding has been in place for a long time and will continue to be in place.  The only thing that has changed is the requirements for funding since many districts were using the funds for other projects not related to instructional facilities.  Go to the TEA website and do a search on IFA.  The legislature enacted IFA in 2006 and here we are in 2016 and it’s still going strong.  So this “we need to do it now, it may not be available again” posturing, is misleading at best.

We are also opposing this bond since our school district still owes approximately $40 million dollars from previous bonds.  Why even borrow more money if we haven’t yet paid our accumulated bond debt? Just because the State pays 70% of the bond, it doesn’t mean that we should be financially okay borrowing more money and paying interest for years to come.  There is no such thing as a good or healthy debt.

In the end, we all want what is best for this community and have no issue investing in the LONG TERM well-being of our school district.  But therein lies the biggest issue, this Administration has no clearly defined Long Term solution for any of the facilities.  Repair Vail now, then what?  The building at its core is some 30 plus years old.  You can’t keep putting new tires on an old car and hope for the best.  What about Green Jr. High and the High School?  Those facilities aren’t getting any younger and this deal with it as it comes mentality has got to stop.

To take from a recent editorial about another valley school district “when you seek someone’s help, you empower them and they become beholden to you”.

LIONS Keeping It Honest Facebook Community Page

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