The Mineral Wells ISD board of trustees unanimously approved increasing the budget for the new agricultural facility from $1 million to $1.6 million Monday night.
“I do feel that we need the ag barn, I think we’ve needed an ag barn for years,” MWISD Superintendent John Kuhn said. “We do have one and it has served its purpose, and a lot of kids have raised animals out there, but we do have a lot of kids that aren’t participating because of the ag barn — space is limited, but the location is the real problem.”
The current ag barn is at Fort Wolters, which Kuhn said is pretty remote and isolated. The new facility will be at the high school.
The decision on the budget increase came after pricing related to the foundation and building materials for the facility went up.
“We all agree that we need a new ag barn and we need it because of the safety — not being safe where it is — and it would be closer, and the kids deserve it,” MWISD Board President Maria Jones said.
Kuhn said the district currently has about $6.5 million in fund balance and $500,000 is projected to be added this year.
“Obviously we’ve worked really hard to build that over the last five years. Our consistent ability to add to fund balance is reflective of our business office’s very conservative budget,” Kuhn said. “I think the board was comfortable with $1 million when we started this project and obviously it’s gone up 40% to 60% but we didn’t know coronavirus was going to happen and we didn’t know the foundation was going to double or triple in cost at that time.
“These things unfortunately happen and it puts us at a very difficult crossroads.”
But Kuhn said moving backward or stopping the project is a worse option than committing the funding.
The new ag facility is set to have additional space for animals and students as well as a practice arena, food storage, bathrooms, wash rack and other support areas.
“I don’t think there’s any project that our school district needs more than this,” MWISD Board Secretary Scott Elder said. “It’s the biggest thing that we need for our kids — we raised up that fund balance for the kids.”