Monday, February 25, 2013

Leander ISD Debt A Major Factor in May Elections

Although it pales in comparison to the national debt, the Leander Independent School District's $2,676,639,982.00 in total debt is nothing to sneeze at.  Yep, you read that right; Leander ISD is now nearly $2.7 billion in debt.  Even worse is that LISD has been exploiting use of Capital Appreciation Bonds, or CABs, to the point of being called out in the Austin American Statesman.  (Use of CABs will result in LISD taxpayers having to pay $9 for every $1 borrowed.)  And it's not just us meany-cow Conservatives sounding the alarm on CABs; even the New York Times is voicing concern over CAB debt, and one state has already outlawed CABs.

LISD's deplorable debt is rapidly becoming an issue in the upcoming Board elections.  Jim MacKay of Cedar Park has filed for Place 3, and is questioning the poor leadership decisions that landed the district in such a financial mess.  He notes that as a result of poor financial decisions, the LISD's Fitch Bond Rating dropped from "AAA" to "AA," and most recently to "AA-".  To cope with these issues, LISD residents now pay one of the highest school property tax rates in Texas.  ($1.51187 per $100 of valuation.)  And don't forget, while Leander touts some pretty awesome and awesomely expensive football stadiums, they also have at least one empty school building they don't know what to do with.  (How about leasing them out to someone who can use them?)

Mr. MacKay is well known in the community for his volunteerism with the school district (he is "The Voice" of the Vista Ridge Football program, and since moving to the District has become a member of the Vista Ridge high School Campus Site-base committee as well as two advisory councils).  A former air traffic controller with the U.S. Air Force, MacKay continues to serve with the Air National Guard as a firefighter and medical first responder.  Some current board members are very upset with MacKay for challenging the cozy status quo, and have begun a whisper campaign claiming that they've never seen him before.  Of course this is a little awkward since the LISD School Board presented him with the Demonstrating Acts of Heroism Award just last November.

LISD leadership has been in place for a long, long time.  Trustee Don Hisle has enjoyed a seat on the board for 18 years now, and despite the district's desperate financial situation, allegedly he is very upset with Jim MacKay for asking too many pesky questions.  Unfortunately, Hisle's hegemony over the district won't be challenged this year; his current term doesn't end until 2015.  Pamela Waggoner, Russel Bundy, and Grace Barber-Jordan are all up for re-election this year.  MacKay is challenging Waggoner, who has served on the board intermittently since 2002.

I look forward to hearing more about Jim MacKay's campaign, and hope to keep readers updated until the May 11, 2013 Elections.  In the meantime, check out MacKay's website to learn more.

 Jim MacKay, Candidate for LISD Place 3.

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