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Bond measure would update schools across Bryan

Bond measure would update schools across Bryan

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Lindsay Cravatt is in and out of at least 10 Bryan elementary schools per week as the technology instructional coach.

"I see what's needed," she said. "You see some schools that are just bursting at the seams, and you see some that are not, so there's a big difference going from one school to another."

The condition of many Bryan facilities, along with the factors of grade realignment and centralizing district administration, convinced her to support the $132 million school bond issue being weighed by Bryan voters.

The bond is focused on safety and security improvements, renewing aging facilities and accommodating future growth. District officials since the beginning have stressed that every campus but one will receive funds for improvements.

As of now, about $24 million of the bond total has been targeted out for extra classrooms and renovations at nine campuses in the district -- Rudder High School, Davila, Rayburn and Long middle schools, and Mitchell, Henderson, Crockett, Kemp-Carver and Jones elementary schools.

High schools/middle/intermediate

Rudder High School is set to receive 12 classroom additions, one set of student restrooms, 9,100 extra square feet in the cafeteria, 3,600 extra square feet in the career and technology areas and a renovated locker room for $5.1 million.

Sam Rayburn and Jane Long, which would turn into the district's intermediate schools for fifth- and sixth-graders, each would receive seven classroom additions and one set of student restrooms for $1.5 million each.

Davila Middle School would see additional athletic space, including a weight room, 21 additional classroom, two sets of student restrooms and an addition to the cafeteria dining area for $5.4 million.

Elementaries

Crockett Elementary School would receive 11 new classrooms and two sets of restrooms for $2.5 million. Henderson would get four additional classrooms, a new cafeteria and a new kitchen for $1.2 million, while Kemp-Carver would receive eight new classrooms and one set of student restrooms for $1.7 million. Mitchell Elementary would get four additional classrooms for $750,000, and Anson Jones would receive five new classrooms, a relocated central office, a new entrance canopy and a new corridor to the gym for $5.5 million.

The improvements for these nine schools were highlighted in the district's facilities master plan, which details the improvements and costs for every project in the $132 million bond package. Because district officials still are moving funds between projects, though, it's possible these numbers could fluctuate.

District officials have said that one major goal with classroom additions is to eliminate use of portable buildings, which got the support of Mark Cervenka, a Bryan parent and manager of facilities and construction for the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

"That's a big thing that will be with this package, and I just don't like portables," he said. "They're inefficient, the kids don't like them, and being a facilities person like I am in my profession, I know they're not very energy efficient. Getting rid of them would help with utility bills."

Other improvements

Officials also set aside $9.3 million in bond funds for facilities improvements district-wide. The improvements were identified in the 2013 facilities condition assessment report.

These issues are part of the $373 million in suggested changes that originally were identified by PBK Architects last year. The list of priority needs, or issues that the architecture firm said needed to be fixed right away, totaled $55 million, according to the assessment document.

Some of the priorities marked to be fixed with the $9.3 million include repairing drainage and storm sewage, installing a new fire sprinkler system and replacing an existing fire alarm at Anson Jones, repairing damaged walls at Bonham, sidewalk repairs at Mary Branch, new or enlarged restrooms at Johnson and Navarro, and roof repairs and air conditioning replacements at Bryan High School and Bryan Collegiate High School.

These renovations are top priority issues the district wants to fix, but could change if other issues of higher priority arise at other schools, said Amy Drozd, the assistant superintendent of business services.

The district also plans to make $5 million in renovations to the Civic Auditorium, which will become the Fine Arts Complex for the schools, and $2 million to Merrill Green Stadium for a new press box. Roughly $1.3 million will go to the maintenance and transportation departments for new fencing, additional parking, additional work bays with a lift, restroom upgrades and a room for meetings and professional development.

Because district officials still are moving funds between projects, they may cut money from certain areas to boost spending at different schools, Drozd said. For example, the district originally allocated $2.7 million for a new transportation building, but recently decided to use those funds for more classroom additions instead.

Some critics have argued that renovations and improvements should be taken care of through the district's maintenance and operations budget, though Drozd said cuts to public education have left the district without sufficient maintenance funds, which postponed some much-needed projects.

Members of the facilities committee, which originally recommended the bond, said older buildings often require more funds not only for ongoing maintenance but also for renovations and repairs.

Mark Posada, a Bryan parent in support of the bond, agreed. "Unfortunately sometimes it does cost more just to maintain something. When you have a newer facility, that's not going to require as much maintenance," he said. "Bryan has a lot of catching up to do as far as their infrastructure and building-wise, and I think this gets us to where we want to be."

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