The Denison Independent School Board is planning on taking action on a bond election at the upcoming July board meeting to expand two elementary campuses. The board discussed the election at the meeting held Monday.
The plan includes a bond proposal that set $10,600,000 for new construction and renovations at Mayes Elementary and $10,250,000 for similar work at Hyde Park Elementary.
During Monday’s meeting, the school board members heard a presentation from project architect Steve Hulseyct. The board will be taking the item up for discussion at its July 30 meeting.
Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott continued the push for the elementary expansion to move forward. He kicked the meeting off with a straightforward address to the school board.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” Scott said. “We need to do it sooner than later.”
Hulsey presented the plans in accordance with the findings of a committee that was formed earlier in the year to determine the best opportunity to address the space issues currently facing two elementary schools in the district.
Scott said the district needs to look at all angles before it brings the bond issue to the voters, and he wants to ensure the public is aware the district needs to do something about the overcrowding at the elementary level.
The DISD school board voted to move forward at its June meeting.
The plan calls for a bond election to increase the size of the two campuses in order to meet the increased number of students at each site. The cafeteria will go from being able to hold 125 students up to 275 students. The increased capacity will enable to campus to have fewer lunch periods. The plans for Mayes also call for an expanded parking lot with a bus loop to facilitate the flow of traffic.
The plans for Hyde Park have similar expansions including 10 classrooms and a parking overhaul. It will also include an expanded cafeteria area as well additional space for the media center.
Hulsey said the increased capacity will bring the student capacity at each campus up to roughly 170 additional students in order to keep the student level at what he called functional capacity. He said if the district needs to get to a teacher to student ratio of 22 to 1 the campus additions could hold up to 220 additional students.
According to a chart Hulsey showed to the school board showed Hyde Park at 94 percent capacity and Mayes at 96 percent capacity. The other elementary schools were also showed as being near capacity. Terell Elementary was at 82 percent. Sam Houston has 90 percent and Lamar is at 99 percent according to the presentation. Moving up to the middle school level B. McDaniel is at 76 percent capacity with Scott Middle School at 73 percent. The high school is at 79 percent. The capacity data was taken from April 1, 2019 levels.
Scott said there had been discussion on what it would take in order to build a new campus. He said there were a number of challenges ranging from finding land to the cost to increased staffing having been a factor in the decision by the committee to present the plan to expand rather than to build a new school. Scott said the district will consider changing some of the district lines under the proposal in order to add capacity at Lamar as well. He said there will be some moving students around.
Hulsey also mentioned the district has grown roughly 1-2 percent growth annually for the last 10 years. Scott said even if the board passes the measure and voters approve, it would take 18 months at the earliest before the district will see the benefit of the additional capacity.
Scott said in response to questions regarding the campuses that were demolished was that they were old and not suitable for renovation, and while the elementary schools are under construction, the district would be able to use some portable buildings if needed.
Do you support the district’s plan to expand the two campuses in question? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.