To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the Charley Thomas letter concerning the "big time spenders" and the school bond election.

Charley seems to feel that spending this bond money on activities will not help our student’s education. Part of these so-called activities includes a new band hall, upgrading the FFA Ag barn, technology upgrades and additional available classroom space. It seems to me these types of activities will indeed help our students prepare for future jobs and leadership. Ask the many music majors and Ag majors in college if new facilities would have enhanced their education. I think the answer would be “yes."

The idea of a new gymnasium may seem odd to those who never attend a basketball game, but for the rest of us it is easily understood why a bigger facility is needed. This new facility will also include larger locker rooms and a new weight room, which is much needed and will benefit our students. We’ve built new English and Science classrooms and labs, Technology classrooms, a library and numerous technology upgrades for our students. I feel that there is nothing wrong with providing our athletes and fans with a similar upgrade.

When you were a school trustee a few years ago, you understood then, or should have, that the best dollar spent is the bond dollar, which has no recapture from the state. You agreed then to an eight cent I & S tax rate for the sale of bonds for our district. Since that time we “big time spenders” have done an even better job by lowering your I & S tax rate to 6.9 cents. Oh, by the way, we also decreased your M & O rate by a third.

A couple of other points: we just refinanced previously sold bonds, saving our taxpayers nearly $580,000 as well as retiring $1,155,000 early. Few districts in this state provide the optional 20 percent homestead exemption that you receive from this school district and there are only eight other districts in the state that have a lower combined tax rate. This Board of Trustees has worked hard to save so that your tax rate stays low!

You mentioned that there will be no debt payments coming from the state. Charley, you should remember from your time on the board that we have never received debt payments from the state, they receive them from us. Remember Robin Hood? That is exactly the reason why this is a good time for a bond election.

I’m surprised you have complained about the new superintendent that you helped to hire. Charley, you did a great job, seeing that he has saved this district millions of dollars in the short time he has been here.

The school board has worked very hard to see that we’ve spent these tax dollars wisely. Maybe that “clawing” you feel at your wallet is coming from Washington.

Tom Lounsberry

GRISD Trustee