The Sherman City Council and Sherman Independent School District’s board of trustees will hold a joint meeting on March 21, just days before the city’s latest option on a 100-acre tract of land being considered for shared use by the two entities is set to expire.
The council recently accepted Sherman ISD’s invitation to join the trustee’s regular meeting this month, though exact details of the meeting’s time and agenda are still being finalized.
“I’ve been working with Dr. Hicks to set up a date that would work for both the city council and school board to discuss maybe next steps for some of the strategic planning sessions that we’ve had over the last year,” City Manager Robby Hefton said during the council’s most recent meeting. “They’ve asked that maybe we join them as part of their regularly scheduled meeting to discuss issues that are jointly important for the city and community and school district.”
Sherman ISD Superintendent David Hicks said Friday that preliminary plans for the meeting include a presentation on the district’s 2017-2018 budget and then the council members and trustees will attend the SISD Faculty Art Show and Reception.
“We will reconvene together to do our regular recognitions and then we have two presentations scheduled … a factual presentation on the bond election for the benefit of the council and then one on the future of the city (planning and growth) for the benefit of trustees,” Hicks said via email.
The joint meeting will be the fourth the two entities have held together over the last year. The council and board previously met in April, June and September. City staff said the previous meetings opened a dialogue between the city and district to better communicate and work together on common issues.
“I can’t help but point out this is very important for our city,” Mayor David Plyler said of the council’s series of joint meetings with the district’s board of trustees. “This is the first time since many years that we’ve really aligned ourselves with Sherman ISD and the importance of shared infrastructure and vision and strategy, so we’re real excited about what this means.”
In December, the city exercised its third option on the approximately 100-acre tract of land at the northeast corner of FM 1417 and OB Groner Road that is being evaluated for possible joint use with Sherman ISD — possibly as the site for a new school or other facility.
In January, the board of trustees called a $308 million bond election for May. If approved, the bond would fund a district-overhauling construction package, which was unanimously approved by the trustees, that would fund projects such as a new high school, new elementary schools, updated technology and an improved or completely new football stadium. The projects were proposed by the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee — a group made up of Sherman residents, educators and community leaders — and are meant to help the district shed its decades-old facilities and better serve its growing student population.
In taking the third option on the 100-acre tract, the council agreed to make a third payment of $60,000 to continue evaluating the site. If the city decides to purchase the land, the $180,000 in option payments paid so far would apply to the purchase price, but they would not be refundable should Sherman decide not to purchase the land.
When the council agreed to the second option payment last year, Hefton listed recreation and athletic facilities as examples of things that other cities and school districts have shared uses on. If the district and city decide to use the 100-acre tract as the location of a new school or sports facility, the council has one more option period it could take on the land that would run through the end of June. By that time, the results of the district’s May bond election would be known.
The proposed new high school, which would cost an estimated $133 million, would have 360,000 square feet and a 2,100-student capacity. No site for the school has been announced, but features of the campus would include modern classrooms and laboratories, fine arts spaces, athletic fields and facilities, and a large storm shelter capable of shielding all students and staff from tornadoes with 250 mph winds.
Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said discussion of real estate during the meeting would likely occur during executive session. Hicks said he anticipates the majority of the meeting will be in open session, and that it will be well attended.
“The Sherman City Council and SISD Board of Trustees have worked in tandem over the course of the last year to assess their respective needs and explore instances where those needs might overlap and complement one another,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “With a joint meeting of these two groups now just a week away, the seeds of those cooperative efforts are finally ready to bear fruit.”
The city is currently working on an extension of Travis Street onto the west side of U.S. Highway 75 that will go through the Sherman Crossroads development and ultimately connect with OB Groner Road at its intersection with FM 1417, which is the location of the 100-acre tract of land being considered. Plans for the extension, which will be known as West Travis Street, are for it to be a four-lane divided roadway.