From staff reports
Nearly 40 community members attended the Mineral Wells ISD town-hall meeting at Lamar Elementary Tuesday evening, providing a first glimpse into the district’s proposed $25 million bond project.
On Nov. 5, voters will decide the fate of the bond package, but until then, the district has several events lined up to help inform the community.
At Tuesday’s meeting, MWISD Board President Joe Ruelas presented an overview of band facts, along with Sloan Harris of VLK Architects and Kay Brown as a representative of the MWISD Facilities Study Committee – a 28-member group of business leaders and citizens who visited each campus and examined the district’s needs earlier this year.
Harris outlined a 10-year long-range facility plan for all district facilities and discussed VLK’s involvement on the project.
Brown presented an overview of the committee’s evaluation process and its recommendations, the first being the replacement of Lamar Elementary School, estimated by VLK at $23 million. Brown, a retired MWISD teacher, informed Tuesday’s audience that Lamar was built in 1955 and is the oldest active campus in the district.
If voters approve the proposed bond, the new elementary campus will be located on the same property as the existing elementary school and will be designed to serve approximately 850 students. Lamar currently has 747 students and 11 portable buildings – these are supposed to be temporary but have been around for numerous years.
At the town hall meeting, Supt. Gail Haterius said some in attendance “were wondering if the school would be on the same property as it currently is,” which it will be.
She added that others asked if the current classrooms will be affected by construction. “It will most likely be staged,” which she said will allow students to move in as a stage is completed.
If the bond measure passes, Haterius said the projected completion date for the replacement elementary will be in the fall of 2015.
The facilities committee also suggested replacing the Mineral Wells High School track, which is estimated to cost $1 million, and they advised integrating security upgrades at all campuses into the package, estimated at $1 million.
The replacement track at MWHS will consist of an eight-lane track, similar to the existing one, which is also open for community use.
The problem today is that the ground has 7.2 inches of swell due to sulfates in the soil, according to Haterius. One plan recommends digging down 3 feet and building up a base, like for a road. in soil. Geotech engineer called it “nightmare soil” full of sulfates. The same problem that plagued the “new” domed high school. 3 feet of foundation base, concrete with rebar, drainage 2 outside lanes have cracks, large enough to slip keys into, and in spots the track is no longer level.
Proposed security upgrades – at all campuses – will include:
• Secure vestibule renovations and access controls at exterior doors for Travis and Houston elementary schools.
• Secure vestibule renovation and access controls at exterior doors with perimeter fencing for the junior high.
• New corridor doors with access controls at exterior doors for the high school.
Future tours, meetings
The district will offer a tour of Lamar for the community today, 11 a.m. to noon, and another on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The next town-hall meeting, focusing on the track, will be held at MWHS on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend so voters can make an informed decision on Election Day.
“We just want people to educate themselves about the bond and show up to vote and we will be pleased with what the community will decide,” said Haterius. “We want them to be informed and then vote their conscience.”
In addition, MWISD trustees have met with community groups to share information on the bond and to secure input. District representatives plan to meet with constituents at the Mineral Wells Senior Center on Oct. 21, beginning at 11:30 a.m., and will answer any questions regarding the proposed bond.
Any organizations that want a MWISD representative to speak on the bond can call the district’s administration office at (940) 325-6404.
For more bond information, visit www.mwisd.net.
Election and taxes
Voters will decide the outcome of these three propositions in the Nov 5 election.
This is MWISD’s first bond election in seven years. In May 2006, voters approved $13.95 million for the construction of Ram Stadium and its adjacent field house and tennis courts, along with additional classrooms and a new gym at the junior high.
If this year’s $25 million bond passes, the district’s total tax ad-valorem rate would increase 12.76 cents per $100 taxable property valuation. A property owner with a $39,000 home would see a yearly increase rate of about $30.60.
The State Property Tax Code allows for school property taxes on an individual homestead to be “frozen” for owners age 65 and older, if they have filed for the “Over 65 Homestead Exemption” with the Palo Pinto County Appraisal District. However, there is an exception if improvements are made to a home.
Early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 21.