$572M bond goes to Round Rock voters

Round Rock school bonds on May ballot

Voters in Round Rock will soon weigh in on the school district's three bond proposals.

Together, the three proposals total $572.1 million and would address the district's growth and need for innovation.

"We have several classrooms that square footage wise are extremely tight,” said CD Fulkes Middle School Principal Nancy Guerrero.

The school was built in the 1940s and has gone through a few updates.

"It just was added on to over the years, so there’s not a real good flow to the building,” said Donnay Green, the school’s Reading Specialist. "It's old, there are parts of it that are very old, and very needy, even if simple terms of things like AC, lockers, and it’s just not built for the 21st century learner.”

"The building, a good portion of it is in poor condition,” said Guerrero.

During a facilities assessment, architects rated the middle school building as “poor” condition. They estimate it would cost about $28 million to “repair and replace” everything that needs to be fixed.

“Which is not the most cost effective way to address the needs of our current school,” said Guerrero.

"The library is used a lot for overflow,” said Barbara Ludden, the school's Library Media Specialist. "I will often find there's a teacher roaming the building with a small group of students looking for a space."

She said they have to get creative with space.

"You try to cram 30 kids into some of the classrooms that we have here its next to impossible," Ludden said. "We are bursting at the seams in this building, and that's probably not going to change."

Ludden is also a band mom.

"Our orchestra room is pitifully tiny, it's so limiting to the growth of that program," Ludden explained. "Being in fine arts is not only good for you as a person, but it also builds that academic rigor and background that’s needed to successful later in life."

That's part of the reason why they're in high anticipation to see if voters will pass bond proposals that would build a new state of the art middle school next door, specializing in fine arts.

"We have a recording studio, we have a music production studio,” said Guerrero as she showed KVUE’s Christy Millweard the proposed plans for the middle school. “We also have a guitar lab, a piano lab, an ensemble room.”

"It's good for every kind of kid out there to be involved in,” said Ludden.

Green said the new technology would allow their students to be competitive in today's world.

"It offers opportunities that our students would not be getting," said Green.

"It's no longer about a textbook pencil and paper opportunity to demonstrate what they know," said Guerrero. “We don’t want students to know how to bubble in for a test and measure their knowledge, we want them to be able to exercise what they know creatively.”

"I think I'm so envious of the opportunity that these kids are going to be presented with," said Tessa Demings, who was a student at the middle school from 2008 until 2011.

She’s now involved in Sam Bass Community Theatre.

"The performing arts industry is very very competitive and only become more competitive in this Round Rock Austin area, and I think training at a younger age would have been such an opportunity and a blessing to have,” said Demings.

"I think that this offers a lot of opportunities for our students that maybe other kids aren't getting elsewhere, it's a very progressive thought,” said Green. "This is a very progressive area to live in and our students deserve that opportunity to have a school that’s going to equip them to go out into that world."

The plan for CD Fulkes Middle School is just one item on the three bond proposals that will go to Round Rock voters.

The first proposal, that would cost about $381.7 million, would address the district's growth and safety.

District enrollment is projected to be more than 50,000 students in the next five years and many schools are already at capacity or over.

Proposition 1 would create a sixth high school, a new elementary school, and continue making improvements according to the Master Plan at Westwood and McNeil High Schools.

It would also replace aging school busses, as well as add new ones for the continued growth.

Prop 1 would also increase technology safety, including security cameras and door access panels.

The second proposition, estimated to cost $133.6 million, would build a new Career and Technology High School, design a structure for the Early College and Health Professions High School, and expand classrooms at several other schools to eliminate portables.

It would also include the transformation at CD Fulkes Middle School.

“We would have the existing school remained here for two years and continue to serve our students as we begin to design opportunities to integrate the arts into our core academics and promote more opportunity,” said Guerrero. “We want engagement, this is going to allow us to open that school house mentality that is in our past and really promote opportunity for engagement.”

And the thirrd proposition, estimated to cost $56.8 million, would build a new indoor aquatic center, a third outdoor athletic facility, and make upgrades to other current facilities.

It would also purchase land for future development.

They're all changes that some say are needed to accommodate the evolving area.

"We try to do a lot of creative juggling around here to try to accommodate everyone's needs, but it is challenging,” said Ludden.

“I was really excited about this project, we talk about 21st century learning all the time, we talk about innovation, we talk about how to engage students, we talk about choice, this facility would open the doors to promote choice,” said Guerrero. “We know that they need to be creative, we know they need to be collaborative, we know that they need to incorporate technology.”

The last time the district had a bond was in 2014.

If all propositions are approved, the district estimates someone with the average home value of $290,000 would see a tax increase of about $2.23 each month starting in 2020.

Early voting starts next Monday.

Find out more information about the bond proposals here

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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