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BISD Committee prioritizes district needs

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The third meeting of the BISD Citizens Advisory Committee met on November 9 to discuss project prioritization and the financial overview regarding a future proposed bond.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the listed total cost of all identified needs across multiple categories totaled $83.6 million dollars.

The meeting began with a statement from former board member and current committee member Don Miller, who noted his background in construction and maintenance in Northside ISD.

Miller remarked Bandera was 1215 years behind in infrastructure and code compliance. He encouraged said BISD “definitely gotta catch up.”

Local businesswoman Patricia “Hooter” McMullan stated Americans With Disabilities Act compliance was also an issue and queried if the district had the money to make those changes without a bond.

Superintendent Gary Bitzkie stated his concern regarding facilities improvements to allow students to obtain certificates for job skills, noting 35 students were recently certified in welding.

The group went over the areas identified as in need: safety/security, fine arts education, infrastructure/ code compliance, athletic/physical education, site improvements, administration, career and technology education and miscellaneous projects.

Members broke into groups to discuss the prioritized list of needs and determine which projects would need to be a part of the proposed bond and which could be done by BISD Maintenance.

Under safety and security needs, the group noted the need for security vestibules at all campus front entrances. Security fencing was needed at all campuses and a fire/ intrusion alarm system with intercom was also mentioned. Finally, an entry gate with a guard station was requested for Bandera High School.

Site improvements were listed and discussed. Drainage, water intrusion, walkway canopies, and parking lot repairs were noted.

Fine Arts education areas noted for upgrades were the Band Hall, Choir Hall, the creation of a Black Box room for Drama, Auditorium Renovation and Auditorium Support Spaces (dressing rooms, and set storage) Athletic facilities discussed were the addition of a field house, concessions restrooms, upgrades on the boys/girls locker rooms, and improvements to the Middle School Stadium Concession and Restrooms.

Career and Technology Education has advanced, and many of the current facilities are not feasible given new requirements.

The Ag Shop/Welding building, the Building Trades classrooms, Robotics Classroom, Culinary Arts Kitchen, Nursing classroom, Floral classroom, Animal Sciences facilities, Consumer Science classrooms, the ROTC facilities, and the Computer Science Classroom were all areas in need of improvement or renovation.

The High School Administration area was noted as needing extensive remodeling. Current administration offices are in two separate areas of the high school.

The list of needed infrastructure and code compliance issues was long.

Some of the concerns were adding HVAC to the gyms at Alkek and Hill Country Elementaries and replacing the roof at the High School. ADA accessibility at all campuses as well as signage were also mentioned.

Replacement of current lighting with low-cost, long-life LED lighting would save the district money. The wooden windows at Bandera Middle School’s historic building also need to be replaced with updated materials. The Computer Lab in the BMS Library needs renovation as well as creating a Library Student Store at Bandera High School Miscellaneous projects discussed were creating an outdoor classroom at Bandera High School, creating a separation between Life Skills and Behavioral Issues classrooms, fixing the music room acoustics at the elementary schools and enlarging the elementary cafeterias.

When the groups came back together after lengthy discussion, CFO Mike Newman updated the group on the tax base and tax rate history of Bandera ISD.

He noted that the district’s total tax rate is the lowest it has been since fiscal year 1993 and remarked Bandera’s bond rating was excellent The committee had a brief discussion about what the bottom-line financial numbers for the projects would be. The amounts of each individual project was not shared with the group.

Project category totals were $1.8 million dollars for security, $27.3 million dollars for infrastructure/ code compliance costs, $1.4 million dollars for site improvements, Career and Technology improvements $23 million dollars, $14.5 million dollars to improve arts education facilities, $11.9 million dollars for improvements to the athletics/physical education facilities, $2.3 million dollars for renovation of the High School administrative area, and $1.4 million dollars for miscellaneous projects.

The final meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee will be on Wednesday, November 30, at 6 p.m. at the Bandera High School Library.