ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria Community Schools Board of Trustees on Monday voted to move forward with a May 8 bond referendum by unanimously approving three resolutions.
The vote followed a 1028 hearing, one of two hearings required by state law on projects that exceed $1 million. The district’s $19.3 million plan includes repairs at the high school and building space at the intermediate school so all elementary students would be transferred there.
“This has been an extreme process,” said board member Amy Bair.
Resident Michael Thompson was the only person to speak against the bond referendum. Approximately 30 people attended the hearing.
“I know I’m the only guy in this room that’s against this project,” he said. “I don’t care what you build. The question is who’s going to pay for it?”
Recalling the district’s failed bond referendum about 15 years ago, Thompson said the city is no more prepared to take on a debt that will take 19 years to pay today.
“If we’d have built that school, Alex would be just like Muncie right now,” he said.
Thompson predicted if the schools went ahead with the referendum, the loss of students, now at about 10 a year, will accelerate.
He said he also does not trust the district to do with the money what officials said they would. He said the district borrowed $2 million a year following the failed referendum.
“That’s the same sink they were supposed to replace with that money in 2003,” he said, referring to photos of areas in need of maintenance that were presented in a presentation by Alexandria superintendent Dr. Melissa Brisco.
“Yes, this means there is a tax impact, and we take that very seriously,” Brisco said.
Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Cuneo, in his role of supportive parent, said he at first felt whatever needed to be spent should be spent. But, he added, the focus groups conducted by the district helped shape a stronger program.
“After I got the facts, I think this is the best plan because it addresses all the buildings,” he said.
Board member Larry Oliver said the district is spending money on maintenance when areas should be fully renovated or replaced instead.
“When you put money in your car and you keep replacing parts on your car, eventually, you got to buy a new car,” he said.
Board member Kyle Williams acknowledged that even though not everyone agrees with the bond referendum, the process is important because it puts the issue directly before the taxpayers.
“It allows the community person to let us know what is important to you. ... It’s not just our decision; it’s your decision,” he said.