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Trustees vote to hold May bond election for $15.5 million GHS replacement
By James Taylor
Old-timers know that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it is broke, fix it – don’t just throw it away.
But sometimes there just isn’t enough duct tape to hold things together anymore.
The Goldthwaite CISD Facility Committee embarked two years ago with the mission to answer this question: What are we going to do with Goldthwaite High School?
Built in 1929, the GHS building has ushered generations of Mills County students through their high school education and into college, careers, vocations, and military service; doctors, lawyers, scientists, officers, welders, meteorologists, journalists, homebuilders, handymen, nurses, mechanics, makers, artists, authors, actors, and a variety more.
As Dylan sang, the times they are a changin’. With the changes in 21st century jobs come changes in education, the blistering pace of technology levying high demands on schools from kindergarten up.
To meet these needs, school trustees and the Facility Committee agreed that changes were needed, in the form of renovation or new construction. On Jan. 12, the committee gave its heavily-considered recommendation to build new.
After a unanimous 7-0 vote last week by Goldthwaite CISD trustees to proceed with a $15.5 million bond election in May 2017 to build a new GHS, taxpayers have asked how that bond would affect their bank accounts.
So what will a new $15.5 million Goldthwaite High School cost you?
According to Victor Quiroga, senior vice president of capital markets for Frost Bank and Goldthwaite CISD’s bond consultant, you can figure about $21.65 per month on $100,000 of taxable value, or $259.74 annually. Over-65 and disabled homesteads which qualify for exemption won’t face a tax increase, except for major new construction such as the addition of a bedroom or den.
Although interest rates have risen since the presidential election, they remain at historic lows: 3.87% as of Feb. 2, over an historic low of 2.80%, and below the historic average of 6.04%.
Who pays for the bonds within the school district? Primarily:
• 60.14% – commercial, industrial, water and gas systems, electrical and telephone companies, railroads, pipelines, and cable utilities
• 21.42% – rural land and residential improvements
• 9.09% – single-family residences
Addressing trustee concerns, Facility Committee Chairman Bobby Rountree and GHS Principal Rusty Hollingsworth presented ideas on how to build the new school without having to detour students to the Star Learning Center or another location during construction.
Hollingsworth drew up a conceptual design of how the new school could be built on existing school property without disrupting most of the active classrooms. In the first year of the project, the new school would be built; in the second, the old school torn down.
Rountree said that the facility committee supports Hollingsworth’s concept, which would allow students to continue attending the existing high school while the new school is under construction. This design is similar in size – number of classrooms, science labs – to the committee’s recommendation, and consolidates other facilities while saving as many existing, useful structures as possible.
“Combining the restrooms and concession stand with the new school allows for removal of the existing facilities, dual use of the new facilities, and therefore eliminates future maintenance of the older existing restrooms and concession stand,” Rountree said. “Exterior doors to the new facilities would be locked during the day and open during football games; interior doors would be open during the day for student and teacher use, and locked for entrance from the outside.”
Hollingsworth’s design also allows for expansion as needed in the future. The Huckabee, Inc. architectural team will review his proposed design to determine its feasibility.
Trustees praised Hollingsworth’s idea for its simplicity.
“The committee did not consider this alternative because we were working under the assumption that the students would be bussed to the Star School or portable buildings would be used,” Rountree said.
Addressing how the facility committee and administration would continue to engage going into the bond election and potential construction period, a core-four team has been established: Superintendent Ronny Wright, Hollingsworth, Rountree, and committee member David Schwartz.
“I feel tonight very satisfied to see the description of how the committee’s going to be involved and how the administration, board, and all these pieces fit together,” Trustee Clark Campbell said. “We’ve seen a very nice demonstration of that working tonight.”
That description of committee involvement, in brief:
• The committee laid the groundwork for a successful bond project;
• The district will attempt to honor every request made by the committee;
• The district will work with the committee in implementing these projects;
• Rountree and Schwartz will share information with the committee;
• The district will work with the committee to inform the public of all parts of the bond.
“We’re partners in this, and we work well together,” Hollingsworth told trustees. “Any information we bring to you comes through the committee first.”
Today, only rough sketches exist to illustrate the new Goldthwaite High School. Trustees asked that architects Huckabee create conceptual drawings of what the school will look like, to be presented to the public in the near future.
Trustees also requested that all information about the bond and school project be shared with the public as soon as possible, including the bond presentation by Quiroga of Frost Bank and the letter of agreement between the Facility Committee and school administration.
“As the public has placed their faith and trust in us, I want to be sure that we are good stewards of their money, their children’s wellbeing, and the welfare of this community,” Trustee Rodney Spies said. “Ultimately it will be the deciding factor from the public when they go to the polls on whether or not we will build a new high school.”
These documents, the notice of bond election, as well as the full recording of the trustees meeting, can be found online at www.goldthwaiteeagle.com.
Trustee Charles Miles made the motion to call for the May 2017 bond election, seconded by Trustee Mike Mitchell. The motion passed on a unanimous 7-0 vote. Trustees also voted unanimously to begin the process to sell the district’s land on Hwy. 84 if the bond passes in May.