Now that the Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD $56 million bond issue was approved by voters, school officials will now work on the next steps to fulfilling their plans of safer and more efficient campuses.

Committees from each campus will meet with the already hired architect to fine tune the plans. School officials will also begin considering on who the construction manager will be and submit their qualifications. During the June meeting, the school board will narrow the list down to no more than five candidates. The candidates will then submit their cost for the construction.  The best candidate for the job will be chosen during the July school board meeting.

Once a construction manager is selected, then the various projects can go out for bids, according to Greg Perry, assistant superintendent.

Perry expects to have all the bids done and construction to start by the spring of 2014. He also has a goal in mind of the entire process  taking up to three years to complete. But, with so many variables, it is difficult to put a definite time line on the project at this point.

In the mean time, there is a lot of planning to be done such as the timing. Officials know portable buildings will need to be used while construction is being done, so the timing is important so the buildings can be moved from one project to the next in a timely manner.

“We are excited about the prospects and look forward to the day it is completed for the teachers and students to enjoy,” Perry said.

The last bond issue, of $40 million in May 2008, failed to pass which left school officials scrambling to fix the much needed repairs. As a result, they borrowed $ 4.9 million to make the improvements.

For this proposal, school officials worked to make a list of everything they needed, but the costs turned out to be $72 million. So, they decided to cut back and work on what was a priority and the most needed improvements instead.

“We have the same problems now, just five years later, “ Perry previously said.

But, Perry added, the bond money will not be used to build new football stadiums or even new schools, but to make improvements on what they already have. There will be major improvements done on all the campuses.

The district consolidated in 1968 and some of the buildings are original while others were built later such as the Little Cypress Elementary which was built in 1981. Age, usage and Southeast Texas weather conditions have taken their toll on the structures.

A video presented at a meeting showed the conditions students and teachers are forced to deal with on a daily basis. It showed the cracks in the floor which runs under desks, taped floor tiles to keep them in place and mold on the light fixtures above their heads. In addition, there are buckets throughout the school to catch the rain water when it drips while they wonder what affect it will have on the light fixtures if water should seep into them. In addition, a classroom at Little Cypress junior high school has been deemed unusable because of a dripping ceiling which has caused the damp carpets to ripple and wreak of mildew. In several cases, the bond will allow some classrooms to be replaced.

A “brown out” captured on a cell phone video by a student shows a classroom where the lights blinked on an off because of the stress on the electrical system.

The population of the schools has grown over the years and the school cafeteria which was once a gathering place for students to eat their lunch is now too small. The seating is limited and some students are forced to go outside in the Southeast Texas scorching, damp, or frigid weather conditions.  In addition, food service workers struggle to feed the students on outdated equipment.  At one of the schools, they use a plastic tub to wash the dishes.

Another problem has been the students who must leave one building to go to another during school hours. In the 1970s, the “California” design was very popular and enabled the students to enjoy the weather outside while going to class. But, when it rains the crowded, narrow sidewalks are often covered in water. One of the passages leading to a physical education class floods to the point that students must roll up their pant legs and carry their shoes to class. When not raining, these same sidewalks can still be considered dangerous because children as young as kindergarten walk them on their way to another part of the campus. In addition, they are close to area parking lots where they could run out in front of vehicle or be snatched by a stranger. To rectify the problem, school officials are looking to enclose the space.

The video also shows a locker room where the showers are not working and have been boarded up.

But, most distressing is the lack of security for the schools. Unfortunately, a person can approach any side of a campus and gain entrance without being intercepted which makes it unsafe for the students inside.

‘In today’s world, they need to be more secure,” Perry said. “You can’t have people just walking in anymore.”

Over the years, there has been more than one case of shooting students by an intruder. LC-M school officials plan to have one central door where a person cannot gain access into the school without being let in by someone working the door. A system such as this is located at Bridge City Elementary.

However, not everyone was for the bond proposal. A flyer with what district officials called “misinformation” was circulating in the area.

Enrollment as of May 2, 2013 is 3,342 instead of the 3,633 stated in the flyer. According to district officials, the claim is false and off by 291 students.

In addition, LCM is budgeted to receive $13,973,757 in funding this year from the State of Texas rather than the $20.6 million stated in the flyer. There is a difference of  of $6,626,243 which is almost half of what the State allocates. Furthermore, the flyer claims the $20.6 million, which is really $13,973,757, the district receives in State funding, “easily pays staff with millions to spare.” The truth is the current budget has $20.2 million budgeted for full-time staff salaries and an additional $2.1 million to pay for staff benefits, such as health insurance, and for substitutes. This brings the total payroll amount to $22.3 million which is substantially more than the almost $14 million received in state funds. In fact, the State is short by $8,326,243, according to district officials.

In the end, voters approved the bond issue and the district is preparing to use the funds to make the necessary improvements.

Other election results include;

Jason Woods defeated Blake Istre for a place on the LCM school board. In addition, the top three winners for the West Orange-Cove CISD are Hardy O’Neal, Mary Ann Kirksey and Bryan Thomas.

In the city of Orange elections, Tommy Ferguson defeated Cullin Smith in District 2 and Mary McKenna narrowly defeated Annette Pernell in District 4.

For the city of West Orange, the winners were Mike Trahan and Chuck Winter who will serve on the city council while in Bridge City, Kevin Mott and Robert Simonton will retain their seats on the council.

Greg Perry pictured.