San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In the run-up to the May 11 school bond election, the San Marcos Mercury has invited a cross-section of community members to weigh in on the proposed $77 million capital improvement program. Early voting starts April 29.

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There are at least three sound financial basis for San Marcos citizens to vote for Propositions I and II on the school bond issue on May 11. The first to consider is the safety, health and welfare for our children. The second is property values generally improve with the passage of school bonds for the community. And third, conservation of water and energy is imperative as we experience a doubling of population in our region over the next 50 years.

The San Marcos CISD has all of the of schools listed in Proposition I, and several will have much needed replacement of heating and air conditioner systems that are well past their rated useful life. The new units will provide improved energy efficiency with a much higher quality of air ventilation. For instance, the Lamar campus currently has a 40-year-old system in operation with replacement parts difficult to come by. Portions of the Lamar campus do not have operational HVAC because parts have been cannibalized from various sections of the system to keep a primary air handling system operational. I appreciate maximizing the useful life cycle of an asset, but this is a case of being forced to spend a dollar to save a dime, at an unnecessary risk to health of our children, staff, and faculty.

In the 2006 article by Gregory Katz, “Greening America’s Schools: Cost and Benefits” the author presents a number of important health benefits to consider when improving ventilation in our schools. For instance, a recent review by Carnegie Mellon of five separate studies evaluating the impact of improved indoor air quality on asthma found an average reduction of 38.5% in asthma in buildings with improved air quality.

Improved ventilation and air quality reduces a range of respiratory illnesses, including common colds and influenza. Another review by Carnegie Mellon of two studies evaluating the impact of improved indoor air quality on colds and flu found an average reduction of 51% in buildings with improved air quality.

From a health standpoint the costs of poor indoor environmental air quality include higher absenteeism and increased respiratory ailments. Poor indoor air quality and increased respiratory ailments contribute to lower teacher and staff productivity, lower student motivation, slower learning, lower tests scores, increased medial costs, and lowered lifelong achievement and earnings.

Based on information provided by the San Marcos CISD, improved energy efficiency of new HVAC units at Hernandez elementary school are estimated to provide a reduction in electricity dollars spent of $50,000 per year in operation expenses. At the Lamar campus $108,000 is currently budgeted to spend on utilities. A new Lamar facility is projected to operate at $26,000 per year in utility expense.

I urge the citizens of San Marcos CISD to vote and pass both Propositions I and II of the School Bond issue on May 11, with early voting April 29 through May 7, 2013. We can afford to do this today for our children and our community to pave the way to a prosperous future.

BILL ADAMS is a doctoral student in environmental geography at Texas State University.

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11 thoughts on “Commentary: The case for San Marcos CISD bonds

  1. Voting for a future debt, such as bonds, are no way to pay for deferred maintenance.
    If there is a budget of 108k.And there is a way to capture back almost 75% of that. It would make sense that you could get new system and pay for it with the savings.
    No need for extra debt.
    As far a s property values rising because we can sell school bonds. Give me a break.
    For the water issues. I would be disappointed that the school district does not have a plan in action presently as this is a concern since the 70″s.

  2. If you’ve ever been to our campuses you’ll know that all of them need something and some of them need a lot.


    Increase in Texas School District debt from 2000 to 2012 for certain Central Texas Counties:

    District County as of 8/31/12 as of 8/31/00 Change % Change

    San Marcos Cons ISD HAYS $112,154,959 $16,900,000 $95,254,959 564%

    As a taxpayer from the Wimberley area, I will say the SM Bond is a bigger joke than the Wimberley one. Hell
    they are a 289%. Great video on the subject:

  4. I do support education, but I cannot support this bond election. The school board made a mistake when they didn’t break down the bond into more propositions because some of the improvements are essential while others are not.

    Proposition 1: This should have been broken down into three different groups: (!) Updates and security to current schools for educational purposes, (2) New Schools, (3) Facilites for athletics and transportation. The school board has gambled with this all or nothing vote. It might work out in their favor and give them all that they want, but they also might get nothing.

    Proposition 2: Don’t need. It is okay to have some of the games on a Thursday and continue to use Bobcat Stadium. More than anything, I am against the proposed location of the stadium – it will be built on top of fields that are in use for other sports where the fields have just become established enough to be safe. As anybody knows that has attended a game out there when multiple teams are playing, there is no parking. The football stadium at the proposed location would only make the other sporting venues worse.

    Also, I am disappointed with how the current school board has spent money I have already given them. One of the worst decisions they have made is to keep the May election date. This costs the school district over $100,000 more to have the election in May instead of November!!!!! This seems like such a no-brainer, move the date of the election and SAVE MONEY. I just don’t want to give them more money until I have more confidence that they are looking after the money they have and spending it in a responsible way.
    John Crowley is up for re-election and he voted to support this expensive election – just say NO.

  5. The administration building has air quality issues, effecting workers. It is not in the package. Sorry, i don’t have the “spare change” that is my gas money. School district should have kept the buildings maintained. Only a small percentage of students will use that football stadium. Investing this amount of money sends the wrong message of what we value in the public schools. Football needs to take a back seat to preparing youth for the job market. Vote NO on the bonds.

  6. Please consider stopping by the Texas Music Theater this morning between 10:30 and noon for information on the bond package. There will be people to answer questions and renderings of the various improvements. There is also free coffee from Mocha’s and Java’s and free Manske Rolls from Gil’s.

  7. At the SMCISD meeting held on 1-14-13, the paid political consultant who conducted the survey of 308 members of the local voting pool for $22,000 presented the finding of their survey. This survey was conducted the last week of December and the first week of January, ending on January 5th. (I was on of the survey participants).

    I have confirmed in the SMCISD Check resister that this consultant company was written a check for their services in January.


    The consultant reported that 79% of the respondents had positive feelings about teachers in the district, and 71% had positive feelings about the school board and school district employees. The consultant proposed using these employees as “messengers” for the bond proposals. Out of three options presented in the survey ($60M, $90M, and $120M) most support was for $90M ($10 mo in taxes) (42% of those surveyed did not support any of these measures.)

    During this presentation, the consultants also recommended that Democrats and younger individuals would be more supportive. A lower turnout meant less chance of the proposals passing.

    I noted in my notes as well the comment by the consultant that their company was “Called in to get bonds to pass when they had failed previously.)

    Although the questions for the survey had to be formulated in December, the call for board members to nominate members for the citizens advisory committee did not start until December 12th. The first meeting of the committee did not happen until AFTER the survey results were completed, and presented to the Committee. They were given a list of items, and told which ones were more likely to pass BEFORE they were presented with data, or allowed to come up with their own recommendations. These meetings were NOT open to the general public, and we had at least two individuals who tried to attend advised they would be forcibly removed if they did not leave.

    •Monday, January 14 – Special Board Meeting to hear Survey results and Facility Assessment presentation Invite Citizens’ Advisory Committee to attend
    •Thursday, January 17 – Citizens’ Advisory Committee – Meeting 1
    •Thursday, January 24 – Citizens’ Advisory Committee – Meeting 2
    •Monday, January 28 – Regular Board Meeting (present Demographic study findings)
    •Thursday, January 31 – Citizens’ Advisory Committee – Meeting 3
    •Thursday, February 7 – Citizens’ Advisory Committee – Meeting 4
    •Monday, February 11 – Special Board Meeting to hear Recommendations of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee Also invite Financial Advisor to present tax impact information at this meeting
    •Tuesday, February 19 – Backup date for special Board meeting/workshop to discuss Bond
    •Monday, February 25 – Regular Board Meeting – Call Bond Election
    •Thursday, February 28 – Backup date for special Board meeting to call Bond Election if needed

    BUT, the school district bond site indicates that the Committee was the one to present this to the school board.

    “The SMCISD bond proposals are based on recommendations from a Citizens’ Advisory Committee, a diverse group of citizens representing different areas of the district including local citizens, civic and business leaders, parents and school staff. The Committee worked together in January and February to review district facility assessments, demographic data, financial information and enrollment trends. Upon completion of their analysis, they worked to draft a recommendation for consideration by the Board of Trustees. In February, the Committee recommended that the school board seek a bond election in May and also presented a priority list of projects to consider including in the measure.

    The Board carefully studied the Committee’s recommendations and officially called a bond election at their regular meeting on February 25 to put before voters on the May ballot.”

    On March 25th, I presented each member of the SMCISD board with a printed copy of the Texas Ethics Commission Guidelines on School Bond Elections. I asked during public comment period that the board does not follow the advice of the paid political consultants and use teachers or administrators to advocate for the school bond, and that they make sure that the teachers were aware, and protected.

    (a) An officer or employee of a political subdivision may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.

    (b) This section does not apply to a communication that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.

    (c) A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

    A violation of the prohibition is a Class A misdemeanor. This means that a violation could lead to criminal prosecution. Also, the Ethics Commission has authority to impose fines for violations of section 255.003.

  8. So basically a consultant company got paid TWENTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS to survey 308 people in San Marcos for a boondoggle bond package that they created.

    Now the proponents of the bond package will tell you this is supported by Citizens Advisory Committee, when in fact the first meeting of the committee did not happen until AFTER the survey results were completed. These meetings were NOT open to the general public.

    Then, when they put the bond package from this firm that got paid TWENTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS, in front of your elected officials, these elected officials chilled free speech rights of residents that came to speak opposed to the package. They shuffled the order of the speakers, cut times, gave other speakers 5 minutes, Now, they want you to shell out money to pay for a football stadium.

    From December when they conducted the first survey it was passed by the board on Feb 25. Sounds like a steamrolling boodoggle is about to hit 78666.


    And, if we care so much for student’s health, then show me the green cleaning products. It would best for the health of our students/teachers and our river.

  9. And, I’ve mentioned the green cleaning products already to steak holders.

    “Many schools have found their costs for green cleaning products to be less than or equal to conventional cleaning products. Instead of using several specialized cleaning products containing harmful chemicals, schools can use as few as four green cleaning products, purchased in larger volumes for cost savings. For example, schools can cut chemical costs by switching to scrubbers and ionized water.”

    Common Hazards in Janitorial Cleaning Products

    No chemical is 100% “safe.” Even products that we call environmentally preferable still have some potential health or environmental hazard. Risk can be minimized by choosing Green Cleaning products and wearing personal protective gear (i.e. rubber gloves, safety glasses, etc.) The information in the table below is provided by the Janitorial Pollution Prevention Project and was prepared by Thomas Barron, Civil Engineer, Lafayette, CA.

    Common General Purpose Cleaner Risks
    Types of Cleaners Ingredients of Concern Risks to Workers
    Glycol-based cleaner or degreaser 2-Butoxyethanol
    Sodium metasilicate
    Nonyl phenol Skin absorb poison
    Eye/skin burns
    Hormone impacts (if swallowed)
    Caustic-based cleaner or
    degreaser Ammonium hydroxide
    Potassium hydroxide Corrosive &
    Eye/skin/inhalation burns
    Solvent-based degreaser Perchloroethylene


    HFC-134 Causes cancer

    Affects nervous system
    Extremely flammable

    Affects global warming
    Citrus-based degreaser Citrus terpene
    D-limonene Eye/skin irritant &
    Odor/indoor air
    Surfactant-based cleaner Nonyl phenol Hormone impacts (if swallowed)

    Common Glass Cleaner Hazards
    Types of Glass Cleaners Ingredients of Concern Risks to Workers
    Ammonia Ammonia

    Ammonium hydroxide Inhalation irritation and poison
    Eye/skin burns
    Solvent Degreaser 2-Butoxyethanol and other glycol ethers Skin poison (blood/liver/kidneys)
    Eye/skin burns (concentrate)
    Alcohol Isopropanol

    (Rubbing alcohol) Inhalation poison (concentrate)
    central nervous system
    Vinegar Acetic acid Eye irritation
    Inhalation irritation

    Common Metal Cleaner Risks
    Types of Cleaners Ingredients of Concern Risks to Workers
    Stainless steel Perchloroethylene
    N-methyl pyrrolidone
    Naptha/mineral oil

    Hexane Causes cancer/flammable
    Eye/skin burns
    Inhalation poison/flammable
    Inhalation poison
    Brass Isopropanol
    Ammonium hydroxide Inhalation irritant
    Skin/eye burns
    Polishing towels N-methyl pyrrolidone
    D-limonene Eye/skin burns
    Odor/indoor air
    Degreaser 2-Butoxyethanol
    Ethanolamine Both are skin absorb poisons and cause eye/skin burns
    Glass cleaner 2-Butoxyethanol

    Isopropanol Skin absorb poison

    Inhalation poison (indoor air)
    (if product has more than 15%)

    Common Restroom Cleaner Hazards
    Types of Restroom Cleaners Ingredients of Concern Risks to Workers
    Basin, tub & tile
    (tile & grout)
    Mildew remover Bleach
    Nitrilotriacetate Corrosive
    Eye/skin burns
    Skin/inhalation poison
    Washroom fixture 2-Butoxyethanol
    Ethanolamine Skin absorbed poison
    Disinfectant cleaner Quats
    2-Butoxyethanol Corrosive (concentrate)
    Eye/skin burns
    Skin absorb
    Disinfectant Quats
    Bleach Corrosive (concentrate)
    Eye/skin burns

    Common Toilet Cleaner Hazards
    Types of Toilet Cleaners Ingredients of Concern Risks to Workers
    Strong acid Hydrochloric acid Corrosive
    Blindness/skin burns
    Severe inhalation irritant
    Medium acid Phosphoric acid Corrosive
    Severe eye/skin burns
    Moderate inhalation irritant
    Weak acid Citric Acid Moderate eye/skin irritant
    Moderate inhalation irritant
    Non-acid Quaternary Ammonium Chlorides Corrosive if concentrated
    Moderate to severe eye/ skin irritant

  10. If you want to talk about indoor air quality you should mention the overwhelming stench of raw sewage in the Goodnight cafeteria (of all places!). This is one of the many conditions that will be remedied by this much needed bond. Also fixed will be roofs, air conditioners, restrooms, parking lots, ADA issues etc. We cheaped out in the bond that built the last round of schools and now we have to come back and do it again/do it right. Vote YES on the bonds on May 11th.

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