HCISD board discusses potential 2022 bond package

By Brittany Anderson
A four-item bond package focusing on the continued growth of Hays CISD is being considered for 2022.
HCISD board members discussed the potential bond during the Dec. 13 board meeting, unanimously approving to continue the bond development process and to hold public forums regarding the Facilities and Bond Oversight Committee (FBOC) recommendations.
Beginning in August 2021, the FBOC met to discuss the need for a future bond election. At the Dec. 1 board meeting, the FBOC reached a consensus for a proposed May 2022 bond totaling approximately $115 million.
The four items being proposed for the bond include an academic support center, construction for elementary school #16, design fees for elementary school #17, and 55 school buses.
The academic support center would move all administrative personnel to one location and enable a Live Oak Academy expansion. The package calls for ES #16 to be a 900-student school and to increase elementary school capacity to 13,109 with an expected completion date of August 2024. And, of the 55 school buses, 20 would be for growth and 35 would be for replacement.
Each item was ranked on a scale of one to seven, with four being neutral. Out of the 14 voting committee members, the academic support center ranked 6.71, ES #16 construction ranked 6.86, ES #17 design fees ranked 6.79 and buses ranked 6.14.
Changes to the parking lot at Hays High School only ranked a 2.57 and was not placed on the bond. FBOC member Jessica Bedwell said the parking situation is not bad enough to do something about it on this bond, and that trying to address it now will ultimately impact other programs on campus, namely athletics and fine arts.
FBOC chair Byron Severance also said that based on demographics, an updated parking lot would not be needed until 2023 or 2024.
Severance said that through hours of work, countless in-person and conference call meetings and campus walk-throughs, the items chosen for the bond are what they felt was of utmost importance for the district right now.
“There’s a lot of other things we could have looked at, but I felt like we needed to garner some trust in the community about spending dollars on academic growth and student growth,” Severance said, adding that HCISD is looking at an “elementary school worth of kids entering into the district every year” for the next 10 years.
Board member Merideth Keller said that she would like a “full facility report” in Spring 2022 so they can see the full scope of work that each campus may need, and reiterated that district employees should be the ones to bring needs and wants to the committee — not the other way around.
Keller also expressed her disappointment in the fact that only 14 committee members voted for the items to be placed on the bond. The committee has 28 voting members, although two spots are currently vacant. Each board member appointed four voting committee members.
Severance said that a few of the FBOC meeting dates had been moved, and they had faced challenges with people RSVPing to both in-person and online meetings. Still, he said, good work has been accomplished with the commitment they have had.
The board will host public forums regarding the bond in January 2022 and must call for an election by mid-February 2022.

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Brittany Anderson graduated from Texas State University in August 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously worked at KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's radio station, for nearly two years in the web content department as a writer and assistant manager. She has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch since July 2021.

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