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Bond measure defeated by 168 votes

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Wills Point ISD officials found themselves on familiar ground during the 2022 election cycle, bringing a bond measure before voters for the third time in six years.

District officials had placed a $42 million bond before voters in 2016 that would have resulted in the construction of a new junior high campus, but that measure was narrowly defeated in part because of the high price tag. Officials retooled their efforts in 2017, bringing a scaled back $36 million measure before voters that was voted down by a wider margin.

Citing an influx of new students and residents locally, board of trustees members reformed the dormant facilities committee during the late stages of 2021 and early stages of 2022 to examine possible options moving forward.

Those sessions ultimately produced a $71,965,000 bond proposal that would have led to the construction of a new junior high, shifted administration and other personnel to the current middle school and increased capacity at the high school by finding a new home for the district’s IT department.

Passage of the bond would have increased the local rate by $.37 per $100 valuation once it goes into effect. For a property valued at $200,000 with a $40,000 homestead exemption, the annual tax increase would have come in at approximately $592 per year. For a property valued at $200,000 without a homestead exemption, the annual increase would have come in at approximately $740 per year.

Months of campaigning by those in favor of the bond and those against drew to a close May 7 as local voters rejected the measure by 168 total votes, 1,082-914.

WPISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Caloss weighed in on the bond shortly after the results were announced stating, “Over the last three months, it has been my honor to engage with our community through presentations, forums, and one-on-one conversations regarding the facility needs and student growth of WPISD. I am proud of the work that our facilities committee and administration has poured into this process since last fall, conducting themselves with integrity and grace.

“Tonight (May 7), 54 percent of votes were cast in opposition of the Wills Point ISD school bond. We appreciate everyone who challenged themselves to be informed voters and exercised their civic duty at the polls. While we are saddened about the election results, we hope that our community will come together in support of our students and staff. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to continually address the pressing needs of our students, faculty, staff, and community during this time of unprecedented growth. As this process continues, we promise to continue the work of developing a plan that can be supported by the community, ultimately creating a seat for every child. We are Wills Point Proud!”

WPISD Board of Trustees

While the bond measure was easily the most visible local election item, voters also had the opportunity to cast their ballots for two places on the Wills Point iSD Board of Trustees.

Three-term board president George Wilcoxson held off a challenge from Jacob Bates for Place 4 on the board by a margin of 1,085-782 while Chuck Allen, the longest serving current board member, was unseated by challenger Jesse Everett for Place 5 on the board by a margin of 1,023-831.

After results were announced May 7, both Wilcoxson and Allen offered up their thanks to the community for their ongoing support.

Said Wilcoxson, “I want to thank everyone that came out and voted this election cycle, and everyone that voted for me personally. We have done a lot of good things in regards to the safety and security of our campuses, upgrading our technology and improving the compensation of our employees and support staff. As a board, we are committed to pushing this district forward in all areas.”

Despite coming up short in his bid for a fourth term, Allen was quick to express his appreciation for those that supported his campaign.

“To those who elected me nine years ago and those who supported me during my three terms, it was greatly appreciated. As this time has come to an end and move on, I will continue to pray daily for our schools, staff, administrators, teachers, and most importantly our children. There was never a school board meeting that all of those previously mentioned were not taken into account before taking a vote. It is a blessing and testimony to see how our district has grown and improved during those nine years,” said Allen. “While this is not a good bye for me, it is God’s plan to use me in something bigger. I pray a special blessing on this school board and superintendent as they now have work to do to prepare for the future of the district facilities. I will close and say thank you for the awesome nine years and say God bless Wills Point Independent School District.”