Voters face a mammoth $290 million bond issue in Medina Valley ISD

MVISD enrollment was at 3,870 just a little over 10 years ago, and is expected to explode to more than 18,000 within the next 10 years.

By Anton Riecher
In the Devine-Natalia-Lytle region, Medina County voters will decide on more than $54.4 million in bond issue proposals for their respective school districts this May. While certainly significant, that burden pales by comparison to what Medina Valley ISD alone is asking on its May ballot — $290 million.
MVISD board member Jason Bonney attributes the need to phenomenal expansion in enrollment experienced by the district.
“For the past few years we’ve had a crazy amount of enrollment and growth,” Bonney said. “We rank as the fifth fastest growing school district in Texas.”
The $290 million request comes only about a year after voters approved a $376 million bond issue for construction of a second high school and other district improvements, district superintendent Scott Caloss said in a video posted to the district’s website.
“In last year’s bonds we addressed the overcapacity at our high school,” Caloss said. “In this bond, we are having to address the capacities of our middle schools and elementaries.”
If approved, the new bond issue would cover the addition of a middle school and two elementary campuses, among other district improvements.
Medina Valley ISD covers 296 square miles of Medina and Bexar counties including the communities of Castroville, La Coste, Rio Medina, Dunlay and Mico. The district boasts more than 8,700 students distributed across eight campuses – five elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.
Despite the trumpeting of development along the Austin-San Antonio corridor, a generous amount of San Antonio’s metropolitan growth is moving west into Medina County. The county subdivision map displays an explosion of housing projects west of Loop 1604 bearing names such as Potranco West, Alsatian Oaks, Megan’s Landing and Hunter Ranch.
That expansion shows no sign of letting up. Only last March plans for a new $700 million subdivision between Castroville and San Antonio was announced. Add to this Microsoft’s new $1 billion data center just outside of Castroville and the result is a school district swamped by incoming families.
“Because the growth in the San Antonio-Bexar County area is so overwhelming the current middle schools and high school just cannot facilitate the number of students projected,” Bonney said. “We are projected to be at our maximum in our current middle schools and elementary schools by next year.”
As of 2023 district enrollment stood at 8,727 students, of which slightly more than 5,225 attend elementary schools. Even with a new elementary opening this fall, that attendance is expected to be over the district’s capacity by 2025-26. By 2028-29, elementary attendance is projected to reach 7,000 students.
The district’s middle schools, with slightly over 2,000 students in attendance, are also expected to be overcapacity by 2025-26. Middle school attendance is expected to hit 3,000 students by 2028-29.

Within a decade, total district enrollment is projected to swell by at least 1,000 new students, projections posted on the district’s website state.
While Texans continue to struggle with high property taxes, a key point in winning support for the MVISD bond issue is that no tax rate increase is tied to the latest bond proposal. Each new home sold increases the appraised value of the property it stands on, Bonney said.
The projection on population growth in the next few years stands at between 10 and 12 percent. That represents 14,000 new homes either…


Medina commissioners approve legal agreement to protect historic courthouse

By Anton Riecher
Medina County Judge Keith Lutz cast the tie-breaking vote Monday on whether the county would grant the Texas Historical Commission a “preservation easement” as a condition of receiving a courthouse preservation grant.
“In my opinion we are putting another person at the table with us when it is time to make decisions about the courthouse,” Lutz said.
In March Medina County commissioners unanimously approved the intermediate step in a three-phase program to qualify for a potential $10 million in state funding to renovate the county courthouse in Hondo. That application was submitted to the THC April 5.
As part of that application the THC is asking the commissioners to grant…


City of Devine elections underway

By Victoria Arredondo
Staff Writer
The City of Devine will hold its General Election on Saturday, May 4, 2024 at City Hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additional early voting hours will be held Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 29 and 30 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voting will take place in Devine Municipal Building, 303 S. Teel Drive Devine, TX 78016.
The District 3 race will be between the incumbent Stacy Pyron and candidate Jeff Miller. The District 1 race will be between the incumbent Rufino Vega and candidate Ray Gonzales.

Jeff Miller

Ray Gonzales

Stacy Pyron

Ruffino Vega

Sales Tax Holiday for Emergency Supplies, April 27-29

(AUSTIN) — As we enter the severe weather season, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminds Texans they can purchase certain items tax free during the state’s sales tax holiday for emergency preparation supplies, which begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 29.
“Fires, tornadoes and other severe weather conditions can strike at any time, so it is important that families, homes and businesses have the supplies they need to face these and other emergencies,” Hegar said. “There is no sense in waiting for disaster to strike. I’m encouraging Texans to take advantage of this tax holiday to save money while stocking up for emergency situations.”

Continue reading “Sales Tax Holiday for Emergency Supplies, April 27-29”

HANK and SJRC connection

By Anton Reicher and Kayleen Holder
In business discussed at Medina County Commissioner’s Court, it was announced that St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (SJRC Texas) will take the reins of property owned by HANK, Inc., a charity established 14 years ago by John and Debbie Southwell to provide food, clothing and shelter for hundreds of local foster children.

Continue reading “HANK and SJRC connection”

Workshop: Devine’s unique factors and value drivers discussed

By Anton Riecher
Historical buildings being allowed to decay by owners with no incentive to invest in their upkeep is significantly hindering downtown redevelopment in Devine, a couple of participants in an economic development workshop agreed.
John Gamble, a business professor with Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, said he has heard the same complaint in various small town communities across the state.
“What some communities have said is ‘We have codes in place to prevent this but we don’t have the enforcement capabilities,” Gamble said.
The workshop program, organized with the help of Texas A&M, consists of six 75-minute workshops schedule every three- or four-weeks to identify community…


Zoning amendment triggers continued friction over Lytle mobile home park

By Anton Riecher
By a vote of 4-1 the Lytle City Council approved an amendment to local zoning ordinances March 6 establishing a separate designation for mobile home parks previously classified as “secondary businesses” under municipal regulations.
Molly Solis, serving as city attorney during a special session of the council, stressed that the change would not affect the Harris MH Park project underway north of the Interstate 35 access road which is effectively grandfathered under state law.
“You can’t change the game in the middle of the game,” Solis said.
District 5 Alderman Charles Cate was alone is voting against the amendment.
“I do not believe we have provided proper notice to everybody involved in…


Application for courthouse renovation grant moves forward in Hondo

By Anton Riecher
Medina County commissioners unanimously approved the intermediate step in a three-phase program to qualify for a potential $10 million in state funding to renovate the county courthouse in Hondo.
“We are getting ready to submit our plan to the Texas Historical Commission,” County Judge Keith Lutz told the commissioners during their regular meeting Monday.
Gabriela Fierro with McKinstry Company, LLC, experts on maintaining government buildings, presented details on the timetable to meet the May 13 deadline to apply for the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.
“We had a really successful meeting last week in Austin at the THC,” Fierro said. “This was the time for us to go through the first stage of draft plans with…


Natalia discusses terms for new EMS station

By Victoria Arredondo
Staff Writer

On March 18, the Natalia City Council held their regular meeting. The council passed a motion to accept the interlocal agreement between the City of Natalia and Medina County Emergency Services District No. 4 regarding construction and operation of a 24-hour EMS station.
“I think this is going to be something that’s very much needed,” council member Ruby Vera said. “Some of you may or may not have been on council back when EMS and ESD was established, one of the things we insisted on — but didn’t have a place to put the ambulance — was to have an ambulance here in Natalia on a 24-hour basis, and this is going to…


Two contested races for Devine Council

All three incumbents have re- filed for office as well as two challengers Jeff Miller and Ray Gonzales.
The City of Devine General Election will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2024 at City Hall.
Filing began in January as usual and the deadline to file was Friday, February 16, 2024. The deadline to file a declaration of write-in candidacy is 5 p.m. on the 74th day before election day which is February 20, 2024 (press day).
District 4 – Josh Ritchey (i) is the only candidate for District 4.
District 3 race will be between the incumbent Stacy Pyron and Jeff Miller.
District 1 race will be between the incumbent Rufino Vega and Ray Gonzales.