Columbia-Brazoria ISD’ s bond request to build a new wing at West Brazos Junior High should not have surprised a soul since it largely results from a grassroots effort to better align grade levels.
The decision last week to put the $11.5 million request on the Nov. 5 ballot would allow the district to move all of its sixth-grade students into the junior high building. This is important because, as many parents pointed out, having preteens and pre-kindergartners sharing a campus is fraught with potential problems.
Whether the bump in people’s tax bills is worth it is something everyone will have to consider on their own — which we encourage they do instead of instinctively deciding any school district spending is unnecessary.
Because of changes in the state funding formula, district officials expect the tax rate to remain flat if voters approve the bond request. Tax bills still might increase because of rising home values in the area, but they should still be largely offset if state leaders’ tax relief promises hold up.
The vision district leaders assigned PBK Architects to draw up seems like a smart one as it will build flexibility into the new space on the junior campus. The sizes of the 10 new classrooms that would be funded by the bond can be adjusted to accommodate enrollment changes and evolving needs.
Built by the front entrance of the school, which is the side closest to Highway 36, the sixth-grade wing would be attached to the rest of the school and share facilities, including the library and cafeteria. In addition to the 10 classrooms, it would include two science labs and a pair of large, group-instruction rooms.
In addition, the band hall would be renovated, removing practice rooms and adding storage, and the parking lot will be expanded by 70 spaces.
Engineering fees, assessments, 7 to 8 percent inflation, furniture and all technology that will be needed are also included in the $11.5 million request, Board President Jonathan Champagne said.
As a small district with a tax-averse constituency, even reasonable, justifiable requests can prove to be a struggle when seeking voter support. District officials will need to do a lot of legwork to sell the project to its voters, who should see the bond request’s merit if they are willing to look at it with an open mind.