School rebuilds, early childhood centers on ballot in $284M Del Valle ISD bond vote

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A sign outside the Del Valle ISD administration building reminds people to vote. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Voters in southeast Travis County will decide whether to approve a $284 million bond proposal for Del Valle ISD when they head to the polls starting Monday for early voting.

The district says the bond will not raise the tax rate, so what’s left for voters is to decide whether the bond committee’s priorities are worth the money.

The bond includes money to tear down and rebuild three schools: Smith Elementary, Horsnby-Dunlap Elementary and Del Valle Middle School.

“[The bond committee] wanted to look at the three oldest schools in the district that were built between the ’60s and early ’80s to ensure that they were comparable to other schools in the district,” said Dr. Annette Tielle Villerot, the district’s interim superintendent.

Smith’s principal, Frances Maldonado, has worked at the school for 25 years, first as a teacher and for the last eight years as principal.

“I started in this building, and I started in portables,” she said, “so I wouldn’t know how it feels to have a nice, new, brand new building.”

The 2019 Del Valle ISD bond would provide money to tear down and rebuild Smith Elementary, along with two other schools. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

The school underwent renovations in the 2000-2001 school year, she recalled, and just two years ago had the roof replaced. “And now it’s paint over paint over paint, so it’s not settling very well,” she said of the school built in 1971.

The three replacement schools account for nearly half of the money in the bond, with a price tag of more than $123 million.

Renovations and expansions

Other schools would get renovated, including Del Valle High School, which would see classroom expansions and a new secure entryway at a cost of about $14.4 million.

The bond includes money for safety and security upgrades at other campuses, along with replacement roofing and fire alarm systems.

The district will also spend $22 million if the bond passes for new technology to bring the district closer to a one-to-one ratio of devices to students.

Administration buildings would also expand at a cost of $9.5 million.

Child development centers

If approved, the bond also directs the board of trustees to determine where to build up to three child development centers. The district has just one currently, serving district families, employees and teenage parents with kids between 6 weeks and 4 years old.

The center is near Del Valle High School, and parents have to find a way to get their kids there, sometimes adding an hour or more to a daily commute.

“Because [the new centers] would be in the neighborhood where they work and live, it would be so much more convenient,” child development center director Scott Wille said.

The district has a wait list of about 70 families now, he added, and new facilities would eliminate it.

“It would be nice to be able to have more spaces and more classrooms across the district to be able to provide early childhood education, Wille said.

Find all the bond details here. Early voting runs from Monday, Oct. 21, through Friday, Nov. 1. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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