Chapel Hill board calls for bond election

Published on Monday, 19 August 2013 23:22 - Written by KELLY GOOCH, kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Facility changes could be in store for Chapel Hill ISD if a bond issue passes this fall.

School board members on Friday called a bond election for Nov. 5. The bond money — $31.2 million — would cover various renovations and additions at district facilities.

There would be a tax increase with the bond, and the district’s target is to keep that increase at less than $10 a month for a home valued at $100,000, said Dr. Donni Cook, the district’s superintendent.

She said one of the biggest bond projects would be Chapel Hill Middle School, which serves 800 students and is too small to accommodate students’ needs.

“It’s seen some large growth, so it’s made it really challenging for our programs,” Dr. Cook said.

Proposed improvements include adding another gym — a move that would allow the school to house pep rallies and school assemblies — adding about seven classrooms and likely enlarging another five to seven, she said.

Principal Debbie Black said the bond projects would create extra space for instruction, and with more classrooms, the class sizes can be smaller.

She said the bond would also mean an upgrade in technology.

Additionally, Dr. Cook said a new cafetorium would be built, and the current cafeteria would become the new middle school entrance, which would help with security.

Chapel Hill Middle School isn’t the only district facility that would undergo improvements.

Dr. Cook said Kissam Intermediate School would get a new secure entrance. And at Wise Elementary School, infrastructure changes will be made.

At Chapel Hill High School, she said the district would like to upgrade the baseball/softball complex.

She said the district also wants to do additions at the high school and possibly add to its career and technical coursework options. In the football stadium, she said the district will tear down the old visitor’s side, which has become unsafe, and make it the home side, and the current home side will become the visitor’s side.

Dr. Cook said the district also will add a new competition gym at the high school, which will allow the district to increase seating and host its own graduation. She said there are currently two gyms there, but the district can prepare for growth by putting in a new gym and converting the oldest gym, a practice gym, into classroom space.

If the bond passes in November, she estimated that construction would start in late spring, and all projects would be completed about 18 months later.

In the meantime, Ms. Black encouraged the community to come see the middle school and to vote.

Chapel Hill ISD plans to have informational meetings about the bond leading up to early voting.