Pilot Point ISD Bond PAC
By Abigail Allen
A $38 million bond package is on the ballot this fall for Pilot Point ISD voters, and some members of the community have formed a public action committee to help the bond pass.
The purpose of the For the Students For the Future PAC is to show community support for it and to help explain why the people who make up the PAC stand firmly behind the bond.
“These are absolutely critical needs,” said Micky Nortman, one of the people supporting the bond and the PAC. “Kids can’t learn in an environment where they’re not comfortable. Teachers can’t teach in an environment where they’re not comfortable. We need to fix this.”
Since the PPISD trustees called the bond election on July 14, Superintendent Todd Southard and the board members have been required to keep their comments to statements of fact, so they are not seen as promoting the bond.
Out of the $38.4 million, $20 million is for purchasing property for future use, $5.5 million is for a new transportation center on a 9-acre site the district already owns along U.S. 377 and a little over $12.9 million for capital improvement projects on the existing facilities.
There will be an informational senior citizen’s breakfast on Oct. 11 at Pilot Point Middle School.
Nortman and Brian Heitzman served as the face of the opposition to the 2016 and 2017 bond issues Pilot Point ISD proposed that failed.
They had several concerns about the previous two bonds including the priorities identified in those bond packages and the amount of information provided.
They are both enthusiastically in support of the bond package that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, which they helped build.
Both Nortman and Heitzman were asked by the superintendent to help craft the bond.
“Mr. Southard … called me one evening and told me that he needed me to help be on a long-range planning committee, looking for the next 10 years, what the district is going to be needing,” Nortman said.
Transparency and the critical nature of the needs the district has are two of the main drivers behind the PAC members’ support for the bond, several of them said.
“Being part of the long-range planning committee and all of the detail and all of the information that was given to us, both demographic and facility-wise, really helped us see and understand the needs of the district, and they’re quite broad,” Nortman said. “I was surprised at the state of some of the facilities because I don’t have kids in the schools.”
Included in the $38,413,462 bond is work to update the Early Childhood Center, Pilot Point Middle School and Pilot Point High School buildings to have them meet American Disabilities Act requirements, to fix the drainage at those campuses, and to fund other big-ticket projects to keep the schools viable.
The combination of updated schools and room for the district to expand are why PAC board member Lori Steger is supporting the bond.
“The thought of having to have their whole school year in portables or something like that if we don’t have enough seats to fill when all the growth hits would be a big concern for me,” she said.
Jason Pool, who served on both district committees and is on the PAC board with Heitzman and Steger, agreed.
“This one is for facilities that are needed for the students; we’re talking growth that is on its way,” Pool said. “We’ve got demographic reports that support that. … Nothing’s flashy in this bond; it’s needs.”
PPHS seniors Nathan Heitzman, Brian’s son, and Alex Pool, Jason’s daughter, were two of the students who participated on the committee that built the bond based on the data collected by VLK Architects and Templeton Demographics.
Brian Heitzman was “impressed with what VLK and all that put together,” he said, which the community members used to dictate what they should focus on first. Those top priority items were the only ones included for this bond.
“Right now, the most critical would probably be safety,” he said.
Another is purchasing land.
“We’re going to be in a world of hurt if we don’t start addressing the facilities—the new facilities—with all the growth that is coming our way from the south and east. We’re going to be so far behind the eight ball that we’ll never catch up. They’re not making any more land, and land is not getting any cheaper.”
Southard has stated in his community presentations that he’s trying to negotiate with current landowners to have offers in place contingent on the bond being approved by the voters.
Having those contracts in place would help the district ensure it has enough space to build schools in the future without having to fight developers or push out existing families for it at a higher cost, Nortman and Heitzman said.
After the 2021 bond was built, Nortman and Heitzman wanted to decide what to do with the money that remained in the account for the previous PAC they participated in.
“Residual funds from the political action committee that we had created to fight the … 2016 and 2017 bonds was actually given to the current political action committee in support of this current bond,” Nortman said. “We contacted the people who had donated. They were all in support of moving those moneys and so that has been seed money to start this political action committee.”
Like Nortman, PAC supporter Brian Boerner’s children are out of the house, so it’s not concern for his own kids that has him involved.
Instead, his motivation is trying to help Pilot Point thrive with the growth heading north instead of constraining the growth.
“Someone once said, ‘If you’re green, you’re growing; if you’re ripe, you’re rotten,’” he said. “If we say that we don’t need anything else, then this town will die.”
Boerner echoed that the proposed bond is “extremely transparent” and that’s good because “confusion breeds contempt.”
“If you follow the process here and read through what the school has identified what their needs are—and that’s what it is; it’s truly needs, not wants. And it’s very straightforward and it’s open,” he said.
That growth, which had been promised for so long, is on display, Nortman said.
“All you have to do is drive down 1385 or drive anywhere in Pilot Point, and you’ll see building everywhere,” she said. “In the mornings, you don’t hear birds. You hear roofing nails.”
It’s up to the taxpayers in the community, Heitzman and Pool said, to ensure Pilot Point continues offering quality schools for its students that he feels was the case when he graduated from Pilot Point.
“It’s our responsibility as a community to make sure that they can go to a school that is not overcrowded and that is a safe and prosperous place for them to learn,” Pool said.
For people interested in learning about the PAC, go to VoteForPilotPointISD.com. Boerner encouraged his neighbors throughout Pilot Point ISD to exercise their right to vote.
“Voting is like a muscle; if you don’t exercise it, it atrophies,” he said. “So, get out and exercise. Make your vote count.”
Voters must register by Oct. 4. Early voting for the Nov. 2 election opens Oct. 18.
Oct. 22 is the deadline for applications for ballot by mail and for the Federal Post Card Application.