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Tatum ISD officials call for $29.9M bond election

By Christina Lane
Feb. 14, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Tatum ISD taxpayers will decide on May 12 whether the school district will receive a new elementary school as well as a slew of other items in the district's $29.9 million bond election.

The Tatum ISD Board of Trustees on Monday officially called a $29.9 million bond election. The bond package, if approved by voters, will pay to build an $18.3 million three-grade elementary school to meet growth needs from Tatum Elementary and Tatum Primary schools. The school would be constructed on 23 acres the district owns on Texas 149 between Lil Eagles Preschool snd Childcare and the Tatum city limits.

Tatum ISD's enrollment has grown 4.5 percent in the past five years with Tatum Elementary School experiencing a 47 percent enrollment increase since 2005-06, according to district records. As enrollment has increased, capacity at the primary, elementary and high schools has been or will be eclipsed with continued enrollment.

Other items in the bond include: cafeteria upgrades and career and technology education upgrades at the middle school; classrooms, band hall, ag complex additions, career technology upgrades at the high school; a driveway extension and parking spaces at the primary school; more parking at the community park; and technology and transportation upgrades.

The district's tax rate is estimated to increase by 11 cents from the $1.04 per $100 valuation tax rate. The monthly increase to an average homeowner would be $5.23, or about $63 per year. Homeowners at least 65 years old, who have a homestead exemption, will not see an increase in their taxes as a result of the bond election because taxes are frozen for them.

Since 2000, Tatum has held five successful bond elections totaling $42 million. Of that, $34 million was paid without a tax rate increase, Superintendent Dee Hartt has said. The $8 million 2004 bond increased the tax rate by $0.10. The bonds have passed at a rate of 84 percent to 16 percent, Hartt said.

Because Tatum ISD is considered "property wealthy" by the state, it is subject to making recapture payments to the state. Bond indebtedness, however, is not subject to Texas Education Agency recapture under the state's share-the-wealth funding plan. Therefore, if the district calls bond elections, it is able to keep money locally.

"Tatum ISD has avoided $52 million in recapture payments during the lifetime of these bonds," Hartt said.

The school board appointed the 2012 bond committee because the 2008 bond will be paid off next school year, enrollment projections will place multiple campuses at capacity and it allows the district to maximize state funding and avoid property wealthy recapture payments, Hartt has said.

Early voting is in the school administration office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April 20 to May 8, excluding Saturday, Sunday, and official holidays.

Other early voting locations are: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. May 1 at the Tatum High School Coliseum; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. May 3 at the Tatum High School cafeteria; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 5 at Eagle Park in the main concession stand; and, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 8 at Lil Eagles Preschool and Childcare Daycare.

Election Day voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 12 at the Tatum High School auditorium (for Rusk County Pct. 15) and at the Stewart Community Building on FM 782 (for Rusk County Pct. 14).



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