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In Midland and Odessa, school officials weigh their options as they consider calling school bond elections this fall

Mitch Borden
Mitch Borden
Marfa Public Radio
Voter may head to the polls in Midland and Odessa this fall to decide on two school bond proposals.

Education officials in Midland and Odessa are considering a slew of school bond propositions that could end up totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Depending on their decision — the pair of bonds could appear on ballots this fall.

There’s a lot at stake for both Ector County Independent School District and Midland ISD. The districts want to build new schools and complete needed repairs and updates across their campuses, but say they need the bonds to do so.

Even though the districts have a lot of needs, the two communities have a complicated relationship with school bonds. Odessa voters outright rejected a bond proposed by Ector County ISD last spring while Midlanders are still haunted by a disastrously close bond election in 2019.

Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden has been following the story and spoke to Morning Edition host Julie Bernal about both bond proposals.

Interview Highlights

The bonds being considered

Ector County ISD has the smaller of the two bond proposals, coming in at $427 million.

District officials say these funds would go toward building a new middle school, a career technical center where students would learn trade skills and help the district do needed repairs.

According to Ector County ISD’s Superintendent Scott Muri, if approved this bond wouldn’t raise local property taxes.

Midland ISD's bond proposal totals around $1.7 billion dollars.

If approved by voters, this school bond would build two new high schools, a new elementary school and it would also help refurbish and repair campuses across the district.

Time is running out

At this point, the two school bonds are just proposals that have been presented to both of the districts’ board of trustees, but have yet to be approved.

However, the deadline to call for an election this fall is Aug. 21, which is quickly approaching.

Both school boards are expected to vote to bring these bond proposals before voters by next week.

A complicated history

It’s been over a decade since Midland and Odessa voters have given the green light to a school bond.

Last year, 60% of voters across the Odessa area rejected a bond that was less than Ector County ISD’s current proposal. That bond would have built a new high school, but the election was mired in questions concerning tax increases and the new campus’ location.

Midland ISD’s history with bond elections is complicated. In 2019, a contentious election over a bond worth about a half-billion dollars ended in disaster: Hundreds of ballots went missing, the election’s result flipped multiple times and months after the election was held, it was declared the school bond had failed by 26 votes.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.