In an effort to alleviate some of the crowding issues facing the district in the elementary level, Denison could be seeing the expansion of two schools in the near future. Denison Independent School District School Board heard a report Tuesday night about the need to add capacity to Mayes and Hyde Park Elementary schools.
To achieve this, the district is considering moving forward with a $20-22 million dollar bond election.
The proposal provides for a cost of $10,600,000 for the construction at Mayes and $10,250,000 at Hyde Park, with a goal of ensuring property taxes do not increase more than $.03.
The plans call for an increased capacity of up to 200 additional students at both campuses. Currently, each campus within the district is operating at above 70 percent capacity, and all of the elementary campuses are roughly 85 percent to 95 percent capacity, the report said. The two campuses that were discussed are facing the biggest challenges in regards to the student enrollment.
“They are pretty well maxed out right now,” DISD Superintendent Henry Scott said of the two campuses. “That is where the growth is taking place, primarily on the west side of the school district. We had a committee to study the best method by which to expand elementary school space.”
The proposal was passed with some opposition. Bob Rhoden and Randy Sedlacek voted against the proposal, and Bruce Hysmith, Linda Flemming, David Hawley, Ken Altnether and Becky Russell voting for the proposal.
Rhoden asked about the possibility of not adding to existing schools and directly addressed the proposed rax rate necessary for building a new campus.
Ken Altnether said that consideration doesn’t take into account the cost of purchasing land, and Scott made the case that the plan as presented was more beneficial to the district addressing additional staffing.
Committee Chairman Tom Redwine presented the findings to the school board with a recommendation to call for the bond election necessary to fund the expansion of the two campuses.
Redwine said when the committee was first formed in 2010 it decided between the five elementary schools the district could operate at 450 student capacity. With the growth in the district, he said, that is no longer the case. He said one issue facing the city is the average age of residents is trending younger than in previous decades.
Sedlacek raised the question of how much time was spent on other options for district expansion and Redwine responded there was discussion along that line of thinking, but the major issue preventing the committee from investigating that too much confusion related to where the ideal location would be to build a new campus. The push back from the other areas of the city were also a factor in the decision. He said it was important to develop a plan the voters would be able to get behind.
“We think this is the best solution for what we have to deal with right now,” Redwine said. “I think we can sell that to the public.”
Sedlacek mentioned this would be a short term solution that wouldn’t meet the needs of the taxpayers and wanted to make sure the district was doing the right thing.
What do you think about the campus expansion and newly proposed tax rate? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.