With voting clearly underway for Italy ISD’s 2015 Bond, I was ecstatic when Stafford Elementary’s 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Davee Garcia, contacted me to discuss a writing project that she and her fourth grade students were planning. The fourth graders were beginning their persuasive writing unit and had decided to write about the bond election. Their task was to write a persuasive paper of why someone should vote for or vote against the bond. I was asked to present to the class as the “bond expert.”
When I entered Mrs. Garcia’s classroom, I was greeted with a big welcome of, “Hi, Mr. Velasco!” Mrs. Garcia set the stage for my presentation. I could see that the students had already prepared questions on their sheets that would allow them to gather the information to support their point of view. All of the students had already seen the architect’s project design videos that had been posted online on the Neotribune. I explained to them that I was not there to sway their decision to vote yes for the bond, but to educate them on making an informed choice.
Students learned what a bond election was, how the district used its funding (M&O and I&S), and what the plans were for this bond election. Our fourth graders had some interesting questions throughout the presentation. The most thought-provoking question came from a young man sitting to my left. He asked, “What’s going to happen if the people vote no for the bond?” From all of my bond community sessions that I had conducted at the high school campus, the community center, and the after church services, this was the first time for me to have to answer this question. I was proud of the young man for being bold. I explained to the class that the Board of Trustees and the building committee would come back with another plan to bring to the voters. He smiled and nodded, indicating to me that he was content that I had a backup plan.
This was a wonderful experience, not only for me, but for our students as well. The majority of our fourth graders want the adults to vote yes, but we did have two students that expressed their concerns and asked to vote no. This is a true testament of the town that we live in and the education that our students receive. Sometimes as adults, we tend to make choices without hearing all of the voices. Here is an opportunity to hear their voices. I’ve always told my staff that schools weren’t built to give the adults jobs; they were built to educate our students. I ask that you read some of the letters that our students have written to our Italy ISD voters and to exercise your right to vote on Saturday, May 9th.