WEST COLUMBIA — Columbia-Brazoria ISD Board of Trustees called for a $11.5 million bond election to fund an expansion to house sixth-graders at West Brazos Junior High School.

If voters approve the debt in November, the district should be able to pay for it without increasing the tax rate, Board President Jonathan Champ-agne said.

Officials began discussing the potential bond after district members made it clear they would prefer sixth-grade students to be at the junior high school rather than the current placement at elementary schools.

The discussions began when community members met to discuss realigning grades among the three elementary schools. In the fall, all of the preschool students in the district will attend Wild Peach Elementary School.

Wild Peach and Barrow elementary schools will be split by grade level instead of geography, with kindergarten and first grade at Wild Peach Elementary and second through sixth grades at Barrow Elementary in Brazoria. West Columbia Elementary will continue to serve kindergarten through sixth grade.

Shortly after the board made that decision in late March, the district formed a facilities planning committee to determine the feasibility of moving sixth-graders to West Brazos Junior High.

The 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 at its meeting Tuesday.

The sixth-grade wing would be built by the front entrance of the school, which is the side closest to Highway 36. It would be attached to the rest of the school and share facilities including the library and cafeteria.

The design includes 10 classrooms, two science labs and two large group instruction rooms. If the bond passes, some classrooms will be built with the ability to change their size, Patrick said.

Officials picked this design of the three PBK created because it is most economical and less an impediment to full instruction continuing at the campus during construction, Superintendent Steven Galloway said.

The funding would also be used to make improvements to the current band hall at the junior high, he said. It would take out the practice rooms and add storage, Patrick said.

The plan would “set us up for incoming classes with a large band interest,” he said.

The redesign the facilities group requested in May expanded the new parking lot to add almost 70 parking spaces and reroute the traffic flow to make the car drop-off line move in from the highway, Patrick said.

New construction from the bond would total 20,351 square feet and another 4,228 square feet would be renovated, according to the plan.

The committee looked at potential growth over 10 years and determined this will be more than enough room for sixth-graders at the junior high and leave room at the elementary schools for growth, he said.

If there is more growth than projected, the new section of the building would be built in a way that would make further expansion “fairly easy and inexpensive,” Patrick said.

The $11.5 million would include engineering fees, assessments, 7 to 8 percent inflation, furniture and all technology that will be needed, Champagne said.

Officials are “pretty dang sure we won’t go over that,” he said.

“Unless several hurricanes hit, we should be pretty well protected,” Champagne said.

The board unanimously approved Champagne’s motion to place the bond election on the Nov. 5 ballot. Trustees Matt Damborsky and Jackie Gotcher were absent.

Maddy McCarty is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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