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San Benito voters to decide on $40 million school bond

(Source: KGBT Photo)

With competition across the Valley, school districts like San Benito C.I.S.D. are trying to keep students from leaving to other districts.

This summer, San Benito C.I.S.D. considered the idea of building three new facilities for students.

After review by a community committee and the board, the district is now asking voters to approve a $40 million bond issue that will help build them.

"This bond election is an all or nothing," said Nate Carmen, San Benito C.I.S.D.’s Superintendent.

If voters approve the bond, district students will have a performing arts center, a multi-purpose indoor facility and an aquatics center.

The district's superintendent says these type of facilities have been badly needed for several years.

"Our students perform at a very high level are still performing in cafetoriums,” Carmen said. “So they have cafeterias with stages.”

Carmen says that for years, the City of San Benito has also considered the fact that it lacks a public pool. A new aquatics center would part of the bond.

But those that oppose the bond say $40 million is too much money.

"I picked up a brochure and I was like, ‘Woah!’," said Rosalinda García, a district resident who was picketing against the bond near a polling location on Wednesday.

Opponents like García say the school district could've spent less money for smaller facilities.

"The biggest is the performing arts. We're going way to big," García said.

She says other area school districts have spent less than $30 million for a performing arts center with a larger student body. But the superintendent says, facilities like those are needed.

"We've estimated $30 million,” Carmen said. “We have not settled on any architect, we have not settled on any design - it’s an estimate."

This bond election comes just as the school district is paying off a previous bond. The district says that this new bond will not raise taxes.

"$47 million of that total will be offset by state revenue. So our local tax payers would only pay back $29 million." Carmen said.

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