FORSAN — While a lot of attention in Forsan Independent School District's bond election is focused on a proposal for a new elementary campus, the district has a lot planned for the junior high/high school building, as well.
Voters will decide next Saturday whether to approve a $23.8 million construction bond. The majority of that money is earmarked for a new campus to replace Elbow Elementary, but several million dollars would be funneled toward enhancements at the secondary building.
A facility study of Forsan ISD campuses by the Texas Association of School Board identified a number of infrastructure issues with the junior high/high school. While FISD Superintendent Randy Johnson was hesitant to say the district would have called for a bond election just to address the secondary campus issues, he stressed the needs there are significant and immediate.
“After the TASB study, we received a binder full of lists pointing out that this is wrong, and this is wrong and this is wrong,” Johnson said. “There are issues at that campus that are just too big to handle through our annual maintenance budget.”
The most important renovation, Johnson said, would be in upgrading the campus' security. Roughly $1 million is requested for the construction of a restricted-access vestibule area, enhanced alarm and communications systems and replacement of door locks.
Security at public schools have been much in the news recently, never more so than after the fatal school shootings in Newtown, Conn. In December. But Johnson said the issue has been a concern for FISD educators for several years.
“We've done safety planning and drills for a number of years,” he said. “The issue of the entryway (to the secondary campus) and locks on the classrooms always comes up when we evaluate those drills.
Security concerns are compounded, he added, by the fact that some classrooms can communicate directly with the principal's office while others can't and some can't be securely locked during an emergency situation.
Aside from making classrooms more secure, FISD also wants to renovate the secondary campus entry so that officials can control who gains access to classroom areas.
Other planned renovations at the secondary campus include:
• Seven new classrooms — This expansion would serve two purposes, Johnson said: It would allow officials to keep the junior high and high school student populations more separate during the school day; and it would give administrators more flexibility in dealing with future enrollment growth.
“At our secondary campus, every room is full, which limits our options as to what we can do,” he said. “This expansion will allow us more flexibility … and would allow the junior high portion of the building to be a more self-contained area.”
• Renovations of the restrooms to improve plumbing and bring them into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
• Expansion of the career and technology programs. Johnson said the campus currently offers metal shop, home economics and computer technology courses, but would like to offer more vocational programs.
• Renovation of the junior high science labs. High school science labs were renovated as a result of a bond passed by voters in 2004.
• Increased storage space at the band hall.
Early voting in the bond election continues through Tuesday at the Howard County Courthouse in Big Spring. Tuesday will also witness branch voting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Forsan High School. On election day, polling places will be at Elbow Elementary (for voters in county precincts 33 and 304) and the junior high/high school (for all other district voters).