Mayor: Career, technology center critical

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Mayor Barbara Bass and the president of the Tyler chamber of Commerce spoke to the Tyler Proud group at Traditions restaurant on Monday evening about the importance of the Tyler ISD bond passing on May 11.

Tyler Proud is a group campaigning to get a $160.5 million bond election approved by voters, while the group No More Excuses Tyler ISD is opposed to the bond.

If approved, the money would fund the renovation of Rice and Dixie elementary schools; the construction of three middle schools: Boulter, Moore and one in southwest Tyler; and the construction of a career and technology center.

Early voting starts April 29, with Election Day on May 11.

Mayor Bass said she could not endorse the bond in the capacity as mayor but said on a personal level she was 100 percent in favor of the bond.

"As a CPA, when you can have a bond election and not increase your tax rate, that's a CPA's dream …" Mayor Bass said. "You're getting the school buildings you need as well as building the career and technology school and some middle schools. So in doing that, if you can stay within our current budget, it really is a very (unique) opportunity. I don't remember very many times in my life that we were able to have bond elections and take care of the district's needs without having to go up on the tax rate."

The mayor also focused on the potential benefit the proposed career and technology center could play in the development of a strong workforce in East Texas.

She said in 2008, the state comptroller estimated 80 percent of jobs in the future would need additional training but not necessarily a four-year college degree.

In 1973, 28 percent of jobs required a college diploma, and by 2020, an estimated 65 percent of jobs would require some form of post-secondary education.

"That career tech high school is critical to the education of our future citizen of Tyler, Texas," she said, adding the United States is woefully behind on providing career and technology degrees to students compared to the rest of the world.

Mary Elizabeth Jackson, president of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the improved safety of the proposed new buildings to the Tyler Proud group.

"There is nothing more dear to me than to be a part of a project to build better classrooms so our students will have the available technology and a safe setting across our district in Tyler," Ms. Jackson said.

She said the last Tyler ISD bond proposal failed at the polls in 2010 by roughly 63 votes, or 1.5 votes per voting box. She emphasized the group focus on educating the public on what is in the bond proposal and encouraging them to vote and a good voter turnout was the key to potentially winning the election.

"To defeat a bond election is much, much easier than winning a bond election," Ms. Jackson said. "It is in our nature everyday to be against something. It is so much easier to get people angry about something, and get them to go out and vote against something than it is to get them to want to vote for something."

Ms. Jackson said with less than a week until the beginning of early voting, the Tyler Proud group needed to focus on making phone calls, going door-to-door and explaining the bond proposal, talking to people within their circles about the bond and encouraging people to go out and vote.

She also added that the early voting period will be the key for the election because May 11 falls on Mother's Day weekend and there are several community events scheduled for that weekend including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

"There is no bond election that has all those positives, and there is no way we shouldn't win unless we don't do our jobs," she said.


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