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Proposed $87 million bond would fix, replace facilities in Abilene ISD

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:45:44 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 21 2013 11:48:46 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Abilene ISD’s board must decide by Monday whether to bring an $87 million bond issue to voters this fall.

A special committee recommended 11 buildings in the district be fixed or even torn down and replaced.

Part of the committee recommendation would mean closing two of the oldest schools in the district, Woodson and Locust elementary schools. Woodson, specifically, would not be torn down because of its historical value.

KTXS took a tour of the district facilities on Tuesday. We saw the ceilings falling in, floors coming up and lots of other problems on the campuses.

When the heating goes out in these old building maintenance installs electric heaters as a band-aid to a much bigger piping problem that's just one piece of a deteriorating puzzle AISD is tackling. Some issues are so bad that the master facilities committee recommends tearing down Bowie and Bonham elementary schools and starting from scratch.

"We are thrilled," Bonham Principal Kathy Horner said. "We think that would be the best news we've ever heard."

Part of the recommendation would require the district take the open land near Johnston Elementary and build a replacement school. The old campus would then eventually be sold.

Horner said safety on Bonham's campus is an issue.

"If (students are) called to go to the nurse or if the nurse calls the classroom our nurse has to come outside and stand where I'm standing, and then the teacher will open the door and they will watch the student come down here, because otherwise the child will be out here alone, coming to the office to get whatever their needs are taken care of," Horner said.

Alex Galindo is a student member of the committee. The Cooper High School junior has a unique way of defining how much passing a school bond would impact taxpayers. 

"$50 a year and you could say give up McDonald’s three times a year for your family and there you go," Galindo said. "You gotta kid with a brand new school. You got kids in a great learning environment that is so much better than what they had before."

The district spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to maintain the older facilities. Organizers say this bond could help save money in the long term.

The board will vote on a bond election next Monday, which is also the last day a bond issue could be placed on the November ballot.