AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT)- Highland Park voters approved two propositions during the municipal election that aims to benefit the school district.
“We are very fortunate as a school district and as a community to have had the voters unofficially approve those results,” said Jimmy Hannon, Highland Park ISD Superintendent.
Hannon continued, “Something that the board and I have been working on for the last few years is how do we increase enrollment for the district, which in turn provides more opportunities for our kids.”
Last summer the district purchased 550 acres of land along Loop 335 that will house the school’s new facilities and surplus land for residential and commercial areas.
Proposition A, is a $129 million bond that will focus on several projects including building an elementary school campus, a career and technology education center, athletic fields, and a school park.
“What the school board has done with the additional acreage along Loop 335 is declare that surplus property in order to be able to sell that to residential developers or retail developers that would support a neighborhood that we could start building and grow around those new school facilities,” said Hannon. “Hopefully in the end continued growth for the Highland Park community.”
Proposition A will also fund roadways, utilities, and infrastructure for new construction, school safety measures at existing and new buildings, and transportation.
Hannon shared that Highland Park ISD is considered property wealthy, which means they have to pay the money back to the state.
“We have to pay recapture back to the state,” said Hannon. “For this current school year, that number is approaching $5 million that we have to send back. If we could increase our enrollment here in the school, then those dollars could stay here in Highland Park and benefit not only the school district but also the city of Amarillo, through property tax and sales tax. The more population we have, the more people there are to go out and do things in Amarillo, and support continued community growth.”
According to Hannon the reason the district purchased 550 acres is because it was the most cost effective.
“Through a lot of financial advice from other people, it was determined that we would invest in that property, and then whatever we can sell off to residential developers, or commercial or retail developers,” explained Hannon. We can recoup those funds and there would be little to no investment for the acreage that school actually needs for those school facilities.”
Highland Park ISD won’t receive any bond proceeds until August or September according to Hannon. However, at the end of July, they will receive property appraisal values.
“Once the district receives that information, then we’ll go out in the market and try to sell the bonds at that time. We’ll begin working on some of the infrastructure things such as streets, roadways, utilities, those types of things.”
During that time the district will also begin working on the design and development with their architect.
Proposition B is for $1 million and will go towards technology devices for students and staff. The district currently provides Chromebooks for all k-12 students.
“Those have proven to be quite an asset to a teacher in the classroom and are a really good instructional and learning tool for teachers and kids alike,” said Hannon. “We’ll continue using those technologies and then anything that develops in the next few years that we feel will enhance educational opportunities for our kids. We will continue to upgrade those supplies.”
For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.