The Bearcat Growth Committee recently recommended a $149,950,000 bond package with no tax rate increase to the Aledo ISD board of trustees, which will be voted on at the board’s regular meeting on Aug. 19.
The 38-member committee is comprised of community members and teachers from each campus and was created in December 2018 for the purpose of representing Aledo ISD in the study of data related to enrollment, finances, instructional priorities and facility needs in recommending a bond program to address the needs.
The BGC, chaired by Christi James and Jim Scott, met nine times between Jan. 24 and May 9, hosted community meetings in July and held a final meeting on Aug. 1 before presenting the bond package.
“I believe our businesses and home values are only as good as what our district is and we have a very vibrant school district, but we also have a district that is growing at an excessive rate,” James said. “I think everything worked very smoothly and I think as a board you put trust and faith and confidence into the community. It was volunteer-driven because we weren’t paid to do this, so I think that’s doing something right. For me, I feel like we had plenty of time to do what we needed to do and it didn’t feel like a rushed process.”
Scott said part of the community meetings’ goal was to present information to the public and receive feedback.
“But certainly in this process we wanted to be transparent the whole way through,” Scott said. “When you can talk about it and be transparent about it — and that’s really what this whole group wanted — that just tags along with the community meetings. It was a great process, it was well thought out in making sure we did this right.”
The BGC presented a bond package that will not increase the tax rate for the school district, which includes constructing a new middle school, $62,501,000; renovation and expansion of Aledo Middle School, $33,446,000; constructing a sixth elementary school, $35,858,000; renovation of McAnally Intermediate School, $9,611,000; renovating Vandagriff Elementary School into an early childhood campus, $1,709,000; furniture replacement at Coder, Stuard and McCall elementary schools, $1,800,000; the purchase of land for future school sites, $4,525,000; and the purchase of additional school buses, $500,000.
The second middle school would have a 1,200 student capacity and house grades six, seven and eight. It would be located on Old Weatherford Road and open the fall of 2022. The school would include fine arts and athletic facilities for AISD programs.
According to the BGC presentation, the Aledo Middle School renovation and expansion would include capacity for 1,200 students in grades six, seven and eight, and be 169,000-square feet. The plan is to reuse the front 2002 wing with renovations, include a multi-purpose center and a stadium. Renovations will be done to the cafeteria space and a new library, fine arts wing, gym and field house will be added. The furniture will also be replaced.
The sixth elementary school will have an 800 student capacity for grades kindergarten through fifth and would open the fall of 2021. The proposed package puts the elementary school on Farm-to-Market Road 5 across from the Annetta Cemetery. There will be shared grade level collaborative learning spaces.
The McAnally renovations would allow for an 800 student capacity for grades kindergarten through fifth and be 100,700-square feet. Renovations will be done to the current space to include grade level shared collaborative learning spaces and a classroom wing addition.
The Vandagriff renovation into an early childhood campus would allow for a 550 student capacity at 53,003-square feet. There will be roof, site drainage repairs and the demolition of the 1957 annex. The campus would serve all AISD early childhood programs — pre-kindergarten, preschool program for children with disabilities and daycare/preschool program for children of employees.
“The employee daycare, I’m super excited about that in the opportunity to support our teachers that way because they are growing greatness,” AISD board member Julie Turner said. “Giving them that type of support is super important.”
James said the employee daycare will not be paid for by the district.
“That is paid for by the employee — the teachers, the administration — so just wanted to make sure we’re clear on that,” James said.
According to AISD, with the passing of House Bill 3 in the 2019 legislative session, Aledo ISD is projected to receive additional state funding that will permit a required tax rate compression, or decrease, of 10 cents to $1.49. Based on the 2019 average appraised home value of $360,394 in Aledo ISD, this tax rate decrease would result in a $341 savings. The bond package will not increase the tax rate.
“We live in a very special community and I think you see that at Bearcat Nation 101 when you see all of these new people coming to our community who are so excited to be Bearcats — these young couples, old couples, grandparents who just want to be part of something special here,” AISD Board Secretary Forrest Collins said. “I think for a while there’s been a lot of people who love our district, believe we need new schools, but just didn’t like the process. People have said a lot of thing, but I don’t think they can say those things anymore with the work you have done.”
Information on the recommended bond package can be found by visiting aledoisd.org.