A meeting was held Monday evening with school officials and about 125 concerned citizens at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School to discuss a proposed $56 million school bond for the district.

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, “ said Greg Perry, assistant superintendant of LC-M CISD.

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 if the bond is approved.

At a  passing glance if someone were to drive by the schools may indicate all is well,  but, once inside the problems are everywhere. The bond money will be used to make improvements on all six 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 the 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.

The next step is for the school board during a meeting on Feb. 25 to approve the agenda item to call for a bond election. If approved, then it will be in the May 11th election for voters to decide on whether or not to pass the bond.