AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In addition to Prop. A, a $180.6 million bond to replace Austin Middle School and make other improvements to schools in Amarillo ISD, there are also three other props on Saturday’s ballot.
Voters in Amarillo ISD will also see Props. B, C, and D on the May 7 ballot, which are all separate.
While the district says these upgrades are needed, some taxpayers, including a PAC against the bonds, are speaking out about potential property tax increases.
Prop. B at $19 million, would pay for renovations at Dick Bivins Stadium, which opened in 1950 and was last renovated in the early 2000s.
“There’s some sand up underneath them that is coming down through the bottom and which is causing the bleachers themselves to bow just a little bit,” said AISD Athletic Director, Brad Thiessen. “And by doing that, it’s given us some issues with cracking, and being able to keep the bleacher rows intact.”
Thiessen said they would reconstruct the stands and remove the bottom rows.
“By doing that, we’d be able to add two lanes to the track,” he continued. “We can’t host anything above a six-team district and then we would never be able to host an area major regional meet with a six-lane track.”
Noah Dawson, the treasurer for the Save Amarillo PAC, is against the proposed bonds.
“There are issues with Dick Bivins Stadium right now, I’m not denying that, but it’s, really I don’t think something that needs to be a priority for the school district at this point,” said Dawson. “Especially because there are so many other issues that the district is facing.”
Prop. C would allow the district to build a natatorium for AISD swimming and diving teams to practice and compete.
“We’re limited to about 100 kids right now and if we had the natatorium which, with with the diving area, and possible water polo area, then we would be able to probably increase those numbers,” Thiessen said. “Lubbock has 600 in their swimming program. I think we would be able to grow ours to something like that as well.”
The cost for the natatorium would be $38.8 million. Right now, the teams use lanes at a pool not owned by the district.
“You’re competing against people that have that facility and so when you don’t have that facility, you’re already putting your kids at a disadvantage,” Thiessen added.
Finally, Prop. D at $48 million would be used to build multi-purpose indoor activity facilities at all four high schools.
Amarillo ISD Board President David Nance said the facilities would be beneficial for students.
“This would give us an opportunity to practice during those inclement weather days and give them an opportunity to practice indoors,” said Nance. “And again, from a fine arts facility, from an athletic standpoint, I think this would allow them to expand their practice times during those days.”
But Dawson said he wishes these props were in front of more voters in a November election, especially with a hefty price tag.
“It’s just a bad deal. For current taxpayers, it’s a bad deal,” said Dawson. “For the kids that are currently in school, I think that the kids that are currently in school deserve better than a project that was put together so quickly, that has so many, frankly, extraneous add-ons.”
If all four bonds pass, AISD said the monthly property tax increase would be $13.54 per month or $162.48 yearly. That is based on the average home in AISD, valued at $165,000.