|Posted on 2/11/2019 7:22:00 AM.|
Seguin ISD School Board President Cinde Thomas-Jimenez discusses the district's proposed bond packages.
(Seguin) -- It looks as though the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday will be putting the district's facility needs into the hands of local voters. Following a year long investment by a facilities committee and several board workshops, trustees next week are expected to call for a school bond election to be held on Saturday, May 4. Last month, the district's facilities committee recommended six different projects for consideration.School Board President Cinde Thomas-Jimenez says those projects total $64.7 million and include such things as $39 million for the renovation of A.J. Briesemeister Middle School; $17.3 for the rebuild of Matador Stadium and $3.9 for the renovation of Jefferson Avenue Elementary School.
With the board vote just one day away, Jimenez says she wants the community to realize that there's been plenty of homework, research and sleepless nights that have gone into proposing these projects.
"I want them to realize that we have had a committee working for a year putting a lot of thought and research and discussion into what our priorities need to be and last month, we had a facilities committee meeting and they gave us some really eye opening objectives, I think. Things that we really need to address. Some of them are more pressing than others and so they took those concerns that they had come together with as a committee and prioritized them and so what we are seeing is we need to do a facelift on many of our campuses -- our older elementary and Briesemeister campuses. We need to put some money into some of our playgrounds at the elementary schools so that every elementary school will benefit from that," said Jimenez.
Jimenez says of course, it's also obvious that a new Matador Stadium will be among the driving forces behind this particular bond issue.
"We, of course, are looking at the stadium. The stadium is 60 years-old. It doesn't need a facelift. It needs to be replaced. We have some code compliance issues. We have ADA issues, structural issues. We've had a number of studies of taking a look at the facility itself and we realize that we need to replace it and looking at the brand new high school, I think when you are driving down 123, you can't see the brand new high school, our flagship campus. You do see the big old 60-year-old stadium so we feel that we need to put a focus on that as well. It's not just the football players that use the stadium. The band uses it, the dance team uses it. They use it for track. They use it for soccer. We have multiple uses for that stadium and of course, we have graduation in that stadium as well. So, we are looking forward to the voters taking a look at we are putting in front of them and hope that they will see that we really need to put a focus on moving this district forward because there are a lot of districts around us and there is competition, I think, for students and for homes that are being built here. People look at the facilities when they decide whether or not they are going to move to Seguin," said Jimenez.
Just within the last few days, there's also been talk about adding a pair of items to the list of potential bond projects -- items that remain in the district's Tier I list for high priority. Those projects include $4.4 million for the addition of a new baseball stadium at Seguin High School and the renovation of the current softball field.
Because the new fields could still be included in the election order, Jimenez notes that trustees remain in full discussion weighing all the potential options of doing what is in the best interest of students and taxpayers. She says while the fields weren't among the bond recommended projects by the facilities committee, it's important to note that they were initially considered and just didn't come out of left field for district consideration.
"We know that's a priority for a lot of the people in the community. It's kind of a disadvantage for the baseball team to have to go all the way to the Fairgrounds to Smokey Joe but we want the focus of this bond to be on academics and facilities for the bulk of the district not just the high school. So, we do have the stadium. That's there but we are looking at perhaps that once we get the architectural plans for the stadium maybe we can look at maybe talking to them about putting a baseball field in but it wouldn't be a part of the bond. It would be something that the district would look at as a facility issue and hopefully, we will be able to address it but that is all hypothetical," said Jimenez.
Jimenez says no matter what direction the school board chooses on Tuesday, topping the ballot will be the $39 million for the renovation of Briesemeister. Jimenez says she wants the public to know that while the words read "renovation," the school will ultimately be transformed into a brand new campus.
"It's going to be pretty much gutted. I mean the structure, the walls, the functionality of the building is really strong but those of you are were around back in the 70s when they built that thing, it was actually one big open classroom. You look across a big open area and see 12-15 classrooms going on at one time and then when they morphed that into putting in these expandable walls, (they) decided that wasn't a good idea and put in walls, walls. But, we still had this big open area that was a locker mall and then the lockers were taken out and that kind of spread out into more seating for the cafeteria and all of this is outdoors. There isn't any air conditioning and then the theater stage is outdoors as well. So, all of that needs to be upgraded and the classrooms themselves need to be upgraded and we need to enclose the entire campus so that it's safe. We've got a couple outlier buildings. We need to make sure all of those are in one building," said Jimenez.
Should the board move forward with the initial plan for a $64.7 million bond election, then voters should expect a tax increase of five cents. If they choose to add the baseball and softball fields, that bond total would increase to $69.7 million and would initiate a five and a half cent tax increase.
Rounding out the other proposed bond items are $3.9 million for the renovation of Jefferson Avenue Elementary School, $1.8 million for outdoor ADA accessible playscapes, new play areas and shade canopies for all Seguin ISD elementary schools, $1 million for the land purchase of what will be the the future site of a new McQueeney Elementary School and $1.7 million for various campus improvements to include drainage, HVAC, plumbing and furniture.
A special school board meeting to order the bond election is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.