A core group of community leaders, staff and parents have been identified to help guide the District’s facility planning process. These dedicated individuals have devoted their time and efforts to improve the physical environment of our District. There have been two preliminary planning sessions that have highlighted the vision, direction and needs of the District.
Huckabee Architects conducted a facility assessment this past Fall and brought those results to the table to facilitate the discussion and provide a starting point for this process.
One of the foremost questions in this process related to the very important subject of “Why now?” Why is the District addressing the facility needs at this point, and what outcomes are expected in the process? To answer these questions, we must first look at the goals of the previous facility planning process and the historical context associated with the District’s current debt.
In the Spring of 2018 the bonds associated with the construction of Henderson Junior High will be retired by the District. This will allow the District to take advantage of the existing tax structure to maximize any future construction needs and efforts. If the current tax rate is extended by the voters, a capacity of over $20 million would be available to renovate and/or construct the District’s facilities. Needs above the $20 million threshold would require a tax increase approval. An additional five cent increase would allow for a construction capacity of $30 million while a ten cent increase would provide a capacity of over $47 million.
Preliminary construction needs have been identified at the campuses of Hook Elementary, Gilbert Intermediate and Stephenville High School. These needs will be further prioritized not only by campus, but also by programs. The fundamental programs identified are fine arts, agriculture, career and technology, library expansion, security and athletics. Over the next two months, these needs will be prioritized by the planning committee and inserted into a community survey to gauge support for facility improvements in each of these areas. This survey will be conducted at the beginning of school next year.
The third meeting of the facility committee is set for Monday, August 23rd, at which point the committee will tour of each of the areas addressed by the facility plan.
Communication and transparency of the process is vital to the success of any proposition. My goal is to continuously update the community every step of the way. Working together, SISD will continue to provide a world class learning experience to every student while respecting the needs of our taxpayers and constituents.
Matt Underwood is the Stephenville ISD Superintendent.