Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Sharyland-LogoA new scoreboard for the Richard Thompson Stadium, four new buses, district-wide road maintenance and remodeling and improvements across the Sharyland High School campus are a few of the items included in a list for upcoming capital improvement projects for the district.


“Over the past three years I’ve been here we try to address as many capital projects as possible as they surface,” said Sharyland ISD Superintendent Robert O’Connor during a September 25 school board meeting.  “There’s so much that goes into building high caliber schools and the quality of facilities is one of those variables that is very critical. If you wait too long on projects like these, you could get yourself in a position where you have to go out for large bond packages to address a lot of facility needs. So in the spirit of being proactive and addressing our current needs before they become overwhelmingly cumbersome, we’re presenting this list for board approval and a financial strategy to go with it.”


The district’s list calls for more than $3.8 million in capital improvement projects. They range from $20,000 to buy new security cameras for all the campuses, to spending nearly $1 million on expanding the agricultural barn facilities at Pioneer High School, O’Connor said.


“The barn is, frankly, at capacity right now,” he said. “Kids are being turned away because there’s not enough room for them.”


For some projects, like the new Richard Thompson Stadium scoreboard, have been partially paid by sponsors, O’Connor said.


“Our scoreboard is out,” he told the board. “It’s still functioning but it’s no longer under warranty and they don’t make parts for it anymore. We’re barely holding on in maintaining it.”


O’Connor said during the spring 2017 semester the district received $600,000 in commitments from sponsors for a new scoreboard but that the district is still seeking an additional $200,000 to be able to fully fund a new scoreboard.


“We want sponsorships to pay for the vast majority of the board but we’re recommending this project now because I don’t want to get to a point where we recruit that amount in sponsors and then deals fall apart. We need to close that gap as quickly as possible.”


Two of the district’s oldest facilities - the SHS band hall and athletic facilities -are facing more than half a million in repairs stemming from leaky roofs and bathroom repairs, O’Connor said.


“They’re some of the oldest facilities in the district so they need a lot of love,” O’Connor said. “These repairs are long overdue and we know students expect to come to a place where they feel supported and the facilities need to speak for themselves in keeping up with the high standards we’ve set as a district that they expect from us.”


The board unanimously approved the capital improvements plan along with a funding plan where the district will pay for these projects via their undesignated fund balance and two maintenance tax notes. According to the Texas comptroller website, a maintenance tax note is used by school districts to finance maintenance, repair, renovation or replacement of existing school facilities and does not require voter approval.


“We’re not asking for additional money, we’re using existing credit,” O’Connor concluded.


According to Mark Dougherty, the district’s director of maintenance, the board will meet at a workshop within a few weeks to discuss a timetable for these projects.