The Sherman Independent School District’s board of trustees said yes Monday — yes to a $308 million, district-overhauling construction package and to a bond election that will put the building plans before Sherman voters in May.

(Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.) 

The Sherman Independent School District’s board of trustees said yes Monday — yes to a $308 million, district-overhauling construction package and to a bond election that will put the building plans before Sherman voters in May.

The package, which was unanimously approved by the trustees, includes plans for a new high school, an updated football stadium, two new elementary schools and a technology program to encompass all campuses. The projects were proposed by the Citizens Advisory Committee — publicly staffed by 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.

“It’s definitely a plan that brings us into the future,” board President Tim Millerick said. “I think this bond gives us what we need to be supportive of our kids and to get them into a contemporary learning environment.”

Millerick thanked the members of the planning committee and said it was their hours of research, discussion and work with consultants that likely convinced trustees to voice their support and approve of the bond package and election.

Sherman Independent School District Superintendent David Hicks said the unity displayed by the board and the committee throughout the decision-making process is reason to celebrate.

“It’s an exciting day for our entire community,” Hicks said. “We have coalesced around a vision that will give our kids the very best educational opportunities.”

That vision is based on the district’s greatest facility needs as identified by the committee and a new high school is viewed as a must-have.

At an estimated cost of $133 million, the new high school would boast some 360,000 square feet and have a 2,100-student capacity. No site for the school has been announced, but features of the campus include modern classrooms and laboratories, fine arts spaces, athletic fields and facilities and even a large storm shelter, capable of shielding all students and staff from tornadoes with 250-mile-per-hour winds.

The current Sherman High School first opened for use in 1970 and was meant to hold a maximum of 1,400 students. Forty-six years later, the school has nearly 1,900 students and its classrooms and hallways are consistently crowded. Once vacated for the new high school, the old SHS building would be re-purposed as a middle school for 1,000 students.

“Nothing will instill pride more than good facilities,” said Board Secretary Lynn Mitchusson. And if you have a nice high school, good things follow,”

Also a key component of the bond package are updates to Bearcat Stadium. Two options are available to the district, the first of which is a new stadium. The proposed new stadium would cost roughly $28 million and be built adjacent to the new high school. Features of the facility abound, but highlights include a large press box, increased seating and expansive locker rooms.

Approach No. 2 is a renovation of the existing Bearcat Stadium. The revamp would provide additional seating on both the home and visitor sides, as well as a press box and increased parking — achieved by the destruction of Piner Middle school, which lies to the stadium’s south. The renovation is estimated to cost $27 million — a price driven up by the logistical complications in building so close to U.S. Highway 75. The board would decide in the future which route to take with the stadium.

Rounding out the package are two new elementary schools costing $27 million each and a $14 million technology program that will improve the district’s internet infrastructure and pair students and staff with digital devices.

To get an idea of how the bond package would fair on a ballot, Sherman ISD commissioned a survey of 300 residents in December and the results were positive. After learning of all the project details and the $23 tax increase per $100,000 of taxable property value, 63 percent of those surveyed said they would vote in favor of the $308 million bond if it came up for a vote. For the average Sherman homeowner, whose property value is just under $88,000, the bond means only a $16 tax increase.

To make sure that Sherman voters understand how the bond package will affect the district and taxpayers alike, Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Gail Utter said the members of the group will spread the word and answer the community’s questions, right up until Election Day.

“There’s a lot of educating to do,” Utter said. “It’s going to take the full team to communicate what our needs are. We’ll be informing the public and you can bet there will be a lot of meetings in civic spaces, churches and everywhere else.”

Utter said she was thrilled by the board’s decision and felt confident that the bond will be passed come May.

“We feel real good,” Utter said. “It’s a new time and it looks like everybody is ready for this. In fact, I think they’re more than ready to move this district forward.”

Early voting for the bond election will take place from April 24 to May 2 and the official election takes place May 7.