SSISD assessment team meets with board
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

May 27, 2005 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District’s 27-member Facilities Assessment Team advised school trustees Monday night that after at least two months of review, it is their conclusion that there continues to be an ever-increasing need for a new elementary building in order to adequately meet all of elementary and middle school classroom needs.

The facilities assessment team was organized in February, and in March split into two groups which toured each campus to begin collecting data on facilities needs. In April, the group advised that, based on their findings, the high school foundation needed repairs and a new science lab was needed.

At elementary and middle schools, they found, classrooms are still needed to get teachers “off carts,” and out of what were originally storage rooms and closets. Superintendent Patsy Bolton said Tuesday morning that special programs the school district has been able to provide have been held in those converted rooms and closets.

“Those special programs have been paid for with funds other than tax dollars,” Bolton said. “Some of those programs are mandated, some are for enrichment programs [and other uses].”

The potential for a new building was discussed during Monday night's board workshop. However, a construction of a new facility was not recommended as a forgone conclusion of the evaluation of campus needs, nor was a consensus reached by the group as to resolutions to problems. An architect who was contacted regarding the possibility of a new building recommended that the structure house 700 students to allow for potential growth.

The assessment team in a May 10 meeting discussed the pros and cons of a new facility, and what grade levels should be housed should a new structure be built. Committee members continued to express differing opinions on recommended grade configurations for a new facility at Monday’s meeting.

Also discussed was the “re-purposing” of Austin Elementary from an elementary school to a potential facility for the alternative learning school, Bolton said of the team’s review and assessment presented to the board during a special work session Monday night.

No decisions were made Monday by the board, but potential sources of funding for a new structure and improvements were discussed. Whether improvements include work on the high school foundation, adding new science labs, construction of a new elementary building or come in the form of construction of portable buildings beside existing structures, all projects will require additional sources of funding, according to Bolton. Those sources could include bonds or a bank loan, and all will impact taxes.

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