Friendswood ISD mulling options for possible bond issue

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A bond issue to improve campuses at Friendswood ISD could come before voters in a May 2020 referendum, but it is still in the exploration phase, school officials said.

Based on a facility study by architectural design and planning firm PBK, possibilities for the high school include additions and renovations such as a new auditorium, a competition gym, renovated fine arts and CTE spaces, and more parking, Connie Morgenroth, assistant superintendent of business and operations, said in an April 23 emailed statement.

Besides the high school, C.W. Cline Elementary and Windsong Intermediate have also been identified as needing major work, Morgenroth said. Board members looked over information both on building a new campus to replace Cline Elementary and on major renovations to the school, which are projected to cost 70 percent of what a new campus would, she said.

A six-classroom addition to Windsong to accommodate expected growth and priority maintenance needs at all campuses and district facilities have been identified, Morgenroth said.

Totals for a possible bond program ranged over $100 million, trustees discussed at an April 22 meeting. They also mulled over the possibility of an increase in the district’s tax rate of $1.367 per $100 of valuation. The last FISD bond referendum was for $96.75 million in 2007, Morgenroth said. She declined to provide dollar figures for a scope of possible options for a bond issue.

“It is too early in the process,” Morgenroth said. “The next step would be for the board to direct the superintendent to form a citizens advisory committee to explore the findings from the facility study.”

Morgenroth said trustees could direct Superintendent Thad Roher to form such a committee at the May 28 workshop or the June 11 regular meeting. If formed, the committee would review the findings of the PBK facilities study conducted over the past year, she said.

Committee members would then pass their recommendations to the FISD board, and trustees would make the final decision about whether to hold a bond election and the projects to be included, she said.

The FISD board took no action on anything related to a bond issue at an April 22 meeting at Friendswood High School, instead gathering information and discussing options.

FISD trustees took a 90-minute tour at Friendswood High School, which educators pointed out as cramped and outmoded quarters, before settling in the cafeteria to discuss improvements across the district and a possible bond program to pay for them.

The high school has been maintained well for a facility originally built almost 50 years ago, FISD board President Tony Hopkins said in an emailed statement April 24.

“However, there are areas on the campus that are restricting the number of student participants or outdated for the current needs of a high performing campus that has close to 2,100 students,” Hopkins said.

School officials wound through a labyrinth of gyms, locker rooms and coaches’ offices that often doubled as storage space for laundry and athletic equipment. They saw a stage that is half the size of newer school theaters, district officials said.

In addition, Hopkins said modern Career and Technical Education classrooms require bigger spaces for learning, and the traditional classrooms originally designed for the high school limit access to these fast growing programs in the district.

During the tour, Susan Kirkpatrick, the district’s executive director of CTE, said about 135 students wanted to be in the culinary arts program for the 2019-20 school year, but officials turned away about 71 for lack of room in the program.

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