Board members of Southside Independent School District voted unanimously Monday night to cancel the $64.7 million bond election set for November. The board voted to call the election in February.
The district’s new superintendent, Rolando Ramirez, recommended the cancellation, telling the board the district needed to focus on responding to the pandemic. The board could revisit the matter once students are back on campus and there’s time to assess campus needs, he said.
“Due to the uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority of the district is to keep students, staff, and parents safe,” Ramirez said. “Due to this pressing issue, the bond election should be reconsidered to be brought up at a later time.”
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Fred Hayes noted that Southside’s facility issues won’t change and will need to eventually be addressed. However, he supported pausing and taking a broader look at the district’s needs in the future.
Board member Jesse Hernandez said that when the district revisits the bond issue, administrators should expand their approach to reviewing facility needs. Ramirez agreed, saying he would like to see a committee formed to assess the needs of each campus, department, and program.
Southside’s board voted in February to call the bond election. If approved, the money would have funded the construction of two new elementary schools. At the time, district officials forecasted the funding from the bond would be needed to accommodate future enrollment growth.
When district staff members brought the bond package before the board months ago, they predicted there would be no tax increase. However, whether the pandemic and resulting economic downturn have changed the situation would need to be studied in the future, Hayes said.