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College Station ISD committee recommends $83 million bond
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College Station ISD committee recommends $83 million bond

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A committee has recommended the College Station school board ask voters to approve an $83 bond measure in November.

The bond would fund 26 projects throughout the district and would not increase the district’s tax rate, Ken Hutchens, chief creative officer at VLK Architects, told the school board during a presentation last week. The projects – some facility-specific and others for the entire district – would address multiple priority areas, including safety and security, deferred maintenance, transportation and land purchases. No new schools are included.

The recommendation comes after the bond planning committee, made up of people from throughout the district and community, met and discussed the bond multiple times from March through May.

Any decision to call for a bond election would come at an upcoming school board meeting.

If the school board calls for the bond, four referendums will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot: a general proposal, a technology proposal and two athletic proposals – one for natatorium renovations and one for upgrades to the district’s largest athletic stadiums.

Every campus in the district will be included in one of the 26 projects in the recommendation.

The bond committee assigned each project with a priority ranking of 1 through 4, with priority 1 projects being most needed and priority 4 the lowest need.

Priority 1 projects make up nearly $47 million of the recommendations. Priority 2 projects account for more than $23 million. Priority 3 projects are the final $12.5 million of the recommendation.

The priority rankings do not determine how quickly a project would be completed, but were used to select projects to include in the recommendation. Hutchens said projects will be packaged together as much as possible to find savings, no matter the project’s priority ranking.

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Safety and security upgrades, an interior renovation at A&M Consolidated High School, technology upgrades throughout the district, personal devices for students and teachers and 24 new buses were among the highest-priority projects.

Heating, air conditioning and ventilation replacements throughout the district, sound system upgrades at both football stadiums, press box renovations at Tigerland Stadium, natatorium renovations and the purchase of land were ranked as second-tier priorities by the committee.

Hutchens said it made sense to set aside $3 million for land purchases.

“You will be growing again in the future, and it’s wise for the district to have some money set aside and when the right piece of property becomes available, the district has the funding so they can immediately move and acquire that piece of land for future district growth,” he said.

The two third-priority projects are renovations to the A&M Consolidated High School field house and the development of a districtwide Career and Technical Education and agriculture facility.

The $8.2 million allotted for the CTE and ag facility would include the purchase of land, said Amy Drozd, chief financial officer for the district.

The district does not have what administrators feel is the ideal location for such a facility, she told the board, but district officials will begin searching for that land immediately if voters approve the bond. If between the land purchase and construction, the district exhausts the allotted money, the project could be completed in phases.

Caitlin Smith, who will be in eighth grade at College Station Middle School in the fall, spoke to the board in support of an agriculture facility and said she was excited to see it included in the recommendation.

As a Brazos County 4-H member and a new member of the College Station High School Junior FFA program, she said, “That facility would not only provide space for students to house livestock projects; it would also provide space for students to do projects for agri-science fairs and non-livestock projects.”

The school board has until Aug. 16 to call for the bond for it to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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