Gainesville Daily Register

April 25, 2013

Valley View to decide $12M school bond

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer

Valley View — VALLEY VIEW — A proposed $12 million bond package, if voted into action on May 11, will expand and unify the Valley View Independent School District campus by updating, renovating and joining buildings in the facility.

“I think these are things we put a lot of time and effort into deciding to do,” Superintendent William Stokes said.

The process to propose a bond election began formally in 2011, when Stokes and members of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) conducted an evaluation of the Valley View facility. The resulting bond package now includes new classrooms and laboratories for the district’s high school and  middle school, plus increased handicapped access and additions that connect primary and secondary classroom buildings.

Modernization, Stokes said, was an initial interest, as was adding space for any student increases.

“They felt like our facilities are basically sound, but some of them don’t meet the current needs of the district,” he said Wednesday. “Such as the high school and middle school science labs. They’ve been around a long time. And they built our high school in 1975, and a lot of what is there doesn’t necessarily meet current requirements.”

Safety is another factor in the changes; as a campus located near Interstate 35 and near a service road, the superintendent admitted, it is more open to danger than a facility less isolated. A security barrier between the campus and the interstate, plus security fencing, have been included in the proposal — along with a unification of the school building entrances that will reduce public access.

“Right now we have more than 40 entrances to our various classrooms and they’re basically accessible to anyone who walks up to them,” Stokes said.

The proposal list

Early voting spans Monday through Tuesday, May 7, and election day is Saturday, May 11. If passed, the $12 million package will fund a campus perimeter security update that includes a security/sound barrier to Interstate 35, plus new security fencing; additions to the high school and middle school that include new unified entrances, handicapped access, new science laboratories and classrooms, a new family and consumer sciences lab and a new practice gymnasium; additions to the elementary school that include new classrooms and connections between school buildings that increase safety and protection from weather; renovations to existing buildings; sidewalk and site drainage improvements; and a redesign of parking and traffic circulation on campus. And a new agriculture science center will provide an exhibition hall and buildings for livestock and will double as a secure bus storage area when not being used for other purposes. (Other Valley View ISD projects set to unfold concurrently, but not funded with bond proceeds, include a new softball field, a renovated elementary school dining hall and renovations to the elementary school kitchen.) Homeowners in the district would experience an ad valorem tax rate increase of 32 cents per $100 valuation, raising the actual rate of $1.12 to $1.44.

Stokes said he placed an eye on some of these changes to Valley View ISD as long as five years ago, when initially employed as superintendent.

“It took a while to get my feet on the ground and to know things,” he said. “But then we started by hiring TASB two years ago and, a little more than a year ago, by hiring Harper Perkins Architects out of Wichita Falls. ... And basically, they kind of took all that and put it into a package to make it happen.’

The superintendent added that from the informal beginning, he and members of the Valley View ISD Board of Trustees discussed any campus changes with a long-range view.

“Whatever we did now, we wanted to have in mind what might happen in the future when it comes time to have another expansion,” Stokes said. “We don’t want to wind up just back where we’re at, saying we can’t do anything with this because we didn’t take the time to think this through in the past.”