By Moses Leos III
After months of discussion, debate and at times finger-pointing, Hays CISD reached a decision on where its proposed third high school could go.
By a unanimous 7-0 vote Monday, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees chose a location along FM 967 in Buda as the site for the district’s proposed third high school.
The site, which was deemed the northwest location, could house the district’s third high school, which will be a part of the district’s May 2017 bond election.
Hays CISD’s new school is projected to cost $100 million, with the district aiming to open the school by the 2019 school year.
The northwest site was recommended by the district’s site selection committee, which chose the location on FM 967 over a location in the northeast portion of the district.
The northeast location, which is located in Travis County, generated concern regarding emergency response times, along with infrastructure concerns.
But residents Monday had one last chance to voice their thoughts on the site committee’s recommendation.
A majority of those who spoke during public comment voiced their support of the recommendation.
But one speaker asked the school board to reconsider the recommendation, as she felt “privileged parents” pressured the committee.
“It’s wrong to change the rules of the game when the players are already playing,” the speaker said. “Overnight, the rules were changed to benefit the privileged. Players with political clout expediently won their point over the parents that trusted you to be the stewards for all.”
The speaker worried placing a campus in an area that’s built out will create a “super school.”
Residednt Lucinda Lakos took “extreme exception” to the idea of the site selecting benefitting “privileged parents.”
She felt it was a matter of “safety and security, and that transcends all economic levels.”
Lakos said “now is not the time” for the northeast location, and that safety and response times was the “primary” reason for her supporting the northwest site.
But board member Willie Tenorio said the “big deal breaker” with the northeast site was the lack of roadways leading to the site.
He said with the inclusion of more people, it could put pressure on Travis County Commissioners “for the completion of that road, but that road will come eventually.”
He added there was concern the site was in an area of the district with a high socioeconomic status.
Tenorio said the default thought process on the performance of a school was based on its socio economic status.
Through his experience, Tenorio said that was not often the case, as schools with a high SES were low performing and vice versa.
“It’s the job of the school board and the superintendent to provide a quality education for everyone at every level,” Tenorio said. “It’s up to us as a board to get that done. It’s our responsibility as a board.”
The district will also work on policy for future site selection committees, which includes who can be appointed to them.
“I believe in the committee’s work. It’s a great way to have cross representation you don’t normally have,” board member Holly Raymond said. “It’s not perfect and we can improve it, but it’s a step in the right direction.”