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Sulphur Springs ISD Long Range Facilities Planning Committee Recommends Calling For May 7 Bond Election To Address District Needs

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Sulphur Springs ISD’s Long Range Planning Committee Monday afternoon recommended trustees call for a May 7 bond election to begin addressing $93 million worth of needed upgrades, improvements and additions identified during a series of meetings and campus walk-throughs.

Dr. Lizzy Johnson of TransCend4, a ground formed to help “Texas school districts that may be struggling to keep their board aligned and projects on track, facilitate bond committees, special projects, and school board professional development to keep superintendents, school boards, and communities aligned in order to create lasting positive outcomes for students,” explained that she has worked with SSISD’s long range planning committee during regular meetings to evaluate and prioritize school needs. The committee then on Monday after compiling the findings made a recommendation to the school board during a special called meeting.

Dr. Lizzy Johnson, TransCend4

The committee consisted of 50 different community and educational representatives, including parents and grandparents, business leaders, civic leaders, educators and administrators, volunteers, retirees, alumni and students with campus principals serving as table facilitators.

Dr. Johnson commended SSISD committee on just how engaged they were, diligent to be at each meeting and involved in each phase of the process. The members showed “a lot of faith” in the superintendent, school board and district as whole.

Johnson explained that the SSISD Long Range Facilities Planning Committee was charged at each meeting with making recommendations that:

  • consider the needs of all students;
  • support the district mission, values and beliefs;
  • strive for equity of facilities, defined as not being the same, but rather as supporting common educational goals of the district, including safety and security; and
  • use facts, data and financial resources to make informed decisions.
Shannon Barker, Sulphur Springs ISD Long Range Facilities Planning Committee liaison

The group met at least six times. The first meeting, the committee focused on process, timeline, vision and goal, charge from the school board, gradients of decision making model and school finance 101.

The second meeting focused on demographics reports and district needs presentation

Meeting three involved a facility needs assessment and educational adequacy review.

The committee also on a Saturday morning took a facility tour, walking the various campuses to what each has and needs, and how each is utilized.

The fourth meeting was project priority presentation, what was thought to be the most important things identified.

During meeting five, the committee saw a presentation from a financial advisor.

Finally, in meeting six the committee focused on bond package development with CoVoice.

Katie Tiemeyer, SSHS student, Long Range Facilities Planning Committee member

Sulphur Springs High School students Katie Tiemeyer found the planning process an “amazing experience” she was blessed to be part of. She was able to tell those at her table at each meeting what she thought of certain things, to draw on her experiences attending SSISD from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and recommend change that will benefit future students.

She appreciated being included in the process and that those who are more seasoned in life genuinely wanted to hear and listened to her opinions and recommendations. She said she thinks many issues were brought to light, and recommendations made to improve them for the education, health and safety of all students and staff.

Shannon Barker, a mom who also served as committee liaison, felt it was important that so many different voices from different segments oft he community were involved in the process, none considered above or more than others, as all were needed to identify what is needed for the district to be successful and to do what’s right for all students.

Touring the campuses, seeing the differences and different needs, the willingness of all involved to equip teachers to help students learn better.

Jason Haire, Sulphur Springs ISD Long Range Facilities Planning Committee liaison

Jason Haire, a parent who also served as a committee liaison, said he went in with the idea that he could make recommendations for a new gym at hte high school. In the end, after seeing needs across the district, a new high school gym did not factor into the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee’s recommendations.

While he is disappointed the gym did not make it on the recommendations list, Haire said there are far greater needs that require more immediate attention than a new high school gym. He added that he would be even more disappointed, however, if the school board does not call for a bond in the near future and the community does not rally to support it so that the district can provide the tools needed for students and the district to be successful.

Ultimately, the committee recommended calling for a bond election to be held on May 7 in conjunction with the trustees election to raise funding to begin addressing the $93 million in addition, upgrades, improvements and renovations.

Overall, those recommendations presented by the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee to the school board at the special Feb. 7 meeting, included the following (along with cost estimates for each):

  • Travis Elementary Replacement – $35,000,000
  • Bowie Elementary Classroom Additions – $6,000,000
  • Bush Elementary Renovations – $1,000,000
  • Sulphur Springs Elementary Renovations – $3,000,000
  • High School CTE Center – $12,000,000
  • Fine Arts Addition – $12,500,000
  • Buses – $2,000,000
  • Capital Improvement Projects across District – $9,000,000
  • Austin/DAEP Renovation – $500,000
  • Douglas Early Childhood Renovations – $2,000,000
  • High School Refurbishments – $10,000,000

Since the recommendations were given as a presentation Monday, no action could be taken on the recommendation to call for a bond election.

The school board is expected to consider the matter further, then, at the next board meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, consider calling for a May 7 bond election to begin the process of meeting the facilities recommendations made by the planning committee. If SSISD Board of Trustees does call for an election early voting would be April 19-27, 2022

Dr. Lizzy Johnson with TransCend4 and Long Range Facilities Planning Committee members make recommendations to SSISD school board during a special Feb. 7, 2022 board meeting.

Author: Faith Huffman

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