ANGLETON — Columbia-Brazoria ISD sixth-graders will switch to attending West Brazos Junior High in a few years after an $11.5 million bond proposition to renovate the campus for that purpose earned voter approval Tuesday, according to complete but unofficial election results.
“It’s good for C-BISD,” Superintendent Steven Galloway said Tuesday night.
The measure received the support of 1,281 voters, or 59.2 percent, according to results posted by the Brazoria County Clerk’s Office, compared to 883 or 40.8 percent against. The results are unofficial until canvassed by the school board.
The district should be able to issue the debt without a tax rate increase, according to a fact sheet.
Columbia-Brazoria ISD Board of Trustees called for the bond election in June to fund the expansion to the junior high school to accommodate sixth-graders. The district hopes to open the sixth-grade wing for the 2021-22 school year, Galloway said.
The idea arose during community forums about realigning grades between Barrow and Wild Peach elementary schools.
“Overwhelmingly, most parents were in favor of us moving sixth grade to the junior high to free up space, which is what led us to the bond,” Board President Jonathan Champagne said. “I think it’s definitely the best way for us to proceed forward.”
Starting this year, preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students are clustered at Wild Peach Elementary and second through sixth grades attend Barrow Elementary. West Columbia Elementary continues to serve kindergarten through sixth grade.
The junior high expansion is the least disruptive way to prepare for growth, Galloway said.
“Columbia-Brazoria is an ultra-conservative community, and our school board is the same way,” he said.
Moving the sixth-grade students will allow them to fully participate in junior high extracurriculars. The plan meets every need while also being cost-effective, Galloway said.
“I think the board has been very frugal … we’re one of the few property poor districts in the area and I think we’ve done a lot with the little bit we’ve had,” Champagne said.
The junior high was built in a manner that makes it easy to expand, Galloway said, and the sixth-grade wing will extend from the back of the library toward Highway 36.
The facilities planning committee met several times with PBK Architects to design an expansion that should “set us up for success for the next 10 to 15 years,” committee member Kevin Patrick told the board in June.
The committee helped with the design and the members were very receptive and had great ideas, Champagne said, adding that they looked at things with a different perspective than board members.
In Champagne’s numerous years on the school board, he said this likely was the most community-involved bond election.
“It wasn’t just the board making the decision, it was the community making the decision, so it was the right thing to do,” he said.