As we look down the road, the future is bright for Sherman. We have what will anchor a new retail development with the recent Schulman’s announcement; promising job prospects such as the possible purchase of the long-empty MEMC building by Corning; and a proximity to the Metroplex that will encourage further growth, especially from more affluent residents who come looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle.
They’ll also be looking for a quality education for their children. Sherman has that in spades with innovative educators and a forward-thinking administration, but that is often not how potential residents evaluate schools.
They judge the book by its cover.
Sherman’s facilities are well cared for, but the dust jacket is well worn from decades of use and the pages are yellowed from thousands of students who have benefited from the district.
To continue Sherman’s trend of growth the school district needs new facilities and the high school is a good place to start. Administrators and educators are doing the best they can with what’s available, offering everything from a new robotics class and engineering courses to computer-based college algebra and a program that puts students on a path to an associate degree in nursing.
But the programs are limited. In some cases it by space. In the core classes it’s not unusual for extra desks to line the walls just to get all the students in the rooms. The labs for everything from chemistry to culinary arts limit the ability of teachers to be effective and a lack of space for additional classrooms — both technical and traditional — limits the offerings.
An undersized gym means there is not enough room for all the students to attend things such as pep rallies — and other pieces of the high school experience. The high school has also had to stop inviting parents and the community to such events because of space.
Across the hall the auditorium — which doubles as practice space for part of the band since the band hall can’t hold all the involved students — isn’t big enough for even half of the student population.
But one of the biggest challenges at the school isn’t immediately apparent. It’s the outdated and undersized technology infrastructure that isn’t up to serving 2017 needs, much less 2020 or 2025. In the college algebra class, which is computer based, students often get slowed down to a standstill because of an over burdened network.
The district has had to block YouTube because of its demands on the network — and before you think it’s cute cat videos students are missing out on check out Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Minute Physics channel or Discovery Channel’s and National Geographic’s collection of educational videos. Also there’s YouTube EDU that curates content from more than 100 colleges and universities.
Students are also missing out on the chance to engage with teachers and fellow students in virtual learning environments such as Moodle or Blackboard. Missing out on those experiences is a missed opportunity to prepare students for higher education — both career and technical and four-year universities — where such systems are required for online and many traditional courses.
There are also economic impacts to consider. The local economy is at near-record levels of unemployment. It’s a great thing for all those who are working out there and it has a wonderful ripple effect on consumer spending, but for a growing and expanding employer base it means finding reliable and skilled workers can be a challenge.
An expanded Sherman High School could help with that by offering more space for CTE classes in addition to providing an attractive new motivation for those contemplating a move into Texoma.
Whether you’ve had kids in the Sherman ISD, currently have, or plan to have — or not — the upcoming Sherman bond election matters for you and your community.
It does not come without its cost. The 21-cent tax increase will mean a higher tax bill, but the alternative will cost everyone more in the long run. It will cost jobs, economic growth and impact the future of thousands of local students.
For the taxpayers of Sherman, this is an investment that will pay for itself 10-fold and for generations to come.
Sherman students and teachers deserve a new high school and technology upgrades. They need it.
And so does Sherman’s future. It is for all those reasons that we urge you to vote yes on the Sherman ISD bond. Early voting begins Monday and Election Day is Nov. 7.