College Station school bond proposes new facilites to accommodate population growth [The Eagle, Bryan, Texas]
(Eagle (Bryan, TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 27--The population of College Station has risen for the past two decades, and the school district is asking voters on Nov. 5 to address the increase in growth by approving an $83.5 million bond package.
College Station voters have a track record of approving school bond issues; voters approved multibillion dollar packages in both 2007 and 2009. For the past decade, the district has grown in student population at a rate of 3.5 to 4 percent per year and has proposed purchasing new land on which to build new facilities for future expansion. The district is also asking voters to chip in for high school renovations and to build a warehouse center, rather than have the district rent storage units throughout the city.
In 2010, CSISD hired independent contractor Harner and Associates of Austin to create a demographic analysis of the city in order to provide data to help district administrators evaluate facility needs in the near future.
Between 2000 and 2012, the total population in College Station rose from 67,890 to 93,857, a 38 percent increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the same time period, CSISD enrollment grew by more than 26 percent, according to the demographic report.
"I think quality of life and lifestyle are important, and Bryan-College Station is a nice place to live. I think people are choosing those kinds of places," said Dennis Harner of Harner and Associates, who completed the demographic study. "That's what I see happening, it's just a continuation in what we've seen over the last years."
Harner said his company will be presenting an updated demographic report to the district in early January in order to prepare for attendance zone adjustments.
With the distinct rise in student enrollment, the district will need additional land to build district facilities in the upcoming years. The district has proposed $5.5 million for land acquisition.
"We have 11,600 students today. We have almost doubled our enrollment in the past 20 years. If we double our enrollment again in the next 20 years, we'll have 23,000 students," said Eddie Coulson, the superintendent of CSISD. "The best estimates we can get from the demographers is that we'll have 25,000 students, so we're not even half as big as we're likely to be at some point in the future."
The largest increases in recent years have been in the elementary grades, mostly first through fourth grades, according to the demographic report. The proposed bond issue would lead to construction of a new elementary school for $20 million.
"All of the data that we're getting from places indicate that our community is going to continue to grow," Coulson said. "To be ready for that, we have to have at least some land in our inventory."
The next piece of the package would allocate $3.5 million for renovations to A&M Consolidated High School.
The school was most recently renovated with money from the 2007 bond; updates were made to the field houses and athletics fields, and the district built a foyer in the entrance to have some of the same design concepts as College Station High School, Coulson said. The bond money was also used to improve infrastructure, air conditioning, roofing, flooring and to renovate classrooms and common areas.
A&M Consolidated opened in the early 1970s, so regular renovations are necessary, Coulson said.
The bond money would add a foyer to the competition gym, provide a space for the dance team and cheerleaders, fund infrastructure upgrades and provide renovations to the locker rooms within the main building. The money would also fund additional science classrooms and lab space.
The $3.5 million is not a huge undertaking in terms of renovations, Coulson said, but is a continuation of renovations that were started years ago.
"If the bond doesn't pass, we can't do the renovations, there's not another way to fund them," he said. "We would regroup and determine how to best move forward with lots of different issues, not just the issues of Consolidated."
The district would also aim to purchase a new warehouse center for $7.5 million and renovate the current purchasing warehouse and technology building for $6.5 million.
CSISD's warehouse at 1812 Welsh Ave. has become insufficient with growth, Coulson said. The school district also rents a number of storage units in the community in order to store supplies and materials that are necessary for operation.
The proposed facility would be located at the corner of William D. Fitch Parkway and Rock Prairie Road. The location would have the necessary warehouse space, the district reported, and moving the purchasing and warehouse department would allow the district to renovate the space to create meeting rooms, which the district needs to hold large meetings.
The renovations would also move the district's technology department from three different locations into one central space.
"I think people understand the needs in our community, I think they understand we haven't approached this haphazardly, we've approached this systemically, and we've also approached it with a long-range view," Coulson said. "We understand that this is not the last bond election that we're ever going to have, but this has to fit into ... long-range thinking."
(c)2013 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas)
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