Bridge City ISD officials are hosting meetings for feedback from the community about a possible bond proposal.

‘The purpose is not to sell this project, but to get the community’s thoughts,” said Mike King, BCISD superintendent

The last meeting was Thursday evening at Bridge City Elementary. About 75 people arrived to listen to the presentation and  comment on the issues. The next meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at BCE.

However, King emphasizes there has been “no decisions” made on anything.

He hopes more people will come and others will return to the next meeting.

The point was to give information on our views as educators and listen to the communities thoughts, concerns and answer any questions they may have, he said.

“There were some valid points made at the meeting,” King said. “We want to hear from the community.”

The things being considered for a potential bond proposal is a performing arts facility, athletic improvements and a new middle school.

According to King, administrators met in January 2013 to discuss the needs of the district. About 10 months ago, they began facility committee meetings. Members took tours of the campuses and thoroughly looked everything over. Following the tour the group was asked for their most significant thoughts on what they saw. They reported how well they thought the buildings were maintained and clean. They also said the safety plans are in place and well thought out. In addition, BCE is an example of what a modern day campus should be like. In addition, even the older buildings still surpass others in the area and how well the district is keeping up with technology in the classrooms.

The group also made suggestions, in order of significance is the need for a fine arts center that has up to a 1,500 seat auditorium, the district continue to improve vocational capabilities, improve parking at entrances to the junior high and the stadium, improve the AC/heating at BCMS and tablets and iPads versus textbooks.

The district recently asked the community to participate in an online survey. The results showed 66 percent of people were in favor of a performing arts center.

Currently, the high school choir has 95 students and no rehearsal space. In addition, there are not any nearby restroom facilities. Students have to walk from the choir hall to the main building to use the bathroom. Plus, drama students use the ‘cafetorium’ to perform. That stage is not a standard size and does not have proper lighting and the acoustics are bad.

The high school has BCTV for students to produce a television show. The media students don’t have a studio or a space to edit the show.

The Strutters has about 30 members on the drill team. They need a larger space for practicing and dressing. Currently, the 11th and 12th grade students use the hallway while the others use a small dressing room. But, King said that was benefit since the hall was much larger.

The band is one of the fastest growing activities in the district. The band hall was originally built for 50 students. Currently, the program has 90 students. The program will  grow up to 175 students in 2015-16 school year. The band program now has 349 students in the sixth through 12th grades.

In addition, art exhibitions from 120 students have to be set up in the hallways of the high school. The theater arts program has 130 students.

“Our concern is the co-curricular and extra curricular programs have outgrown their current facility,” King said.

The junior high school recently had work done to the HVAC, roof and electrical operations. But, there are only temporary fixes. The building is said to be good for another 10 to 12 years.

For the athletic facilities, they would like to see improvements such as moving the weight room closer to the athletic complex.

According to King, information was gathered from the appraisal district. The average house in Bridge City is valued at $130,000. If a bond was approved for $10 million, then for a homeowner with a homestead exemption, the average tax increase per year could be $94.85. If the bond was $20 million then the tax increase could be $132.,45 and for a larger bond of $30 million the tax increase could be $171.80 per year.

However, homeowners who are 65 years old or older and are at the their primary, homesteaded residence their taxes will not increase.

Also in consideration, is the bond which passed in 2005 in order to build the new high school building. Homeowners are still paying for that bond and if there was a new bond it would need to be paid on top of the other one. It is scheduled to be paid off in 2035.

“But waiting 22 years is not an option,” King said.

If the district waited for the improvement, everything comes with costs. Not only could the costs of construction escalate but also the interest rates which could make the project more expensive.

If voters were to approve building a new junior high school building, it has been discussed the construction will be done in stages and the best location is where it is now. The current building was built in the 1950s.

“It is in good shape considering its’ age,” King said.

Dr. Fred Zoch, a former board member, spoke during the meeting and stated for some people this was too much of an expense at this time. A lot of people in Bridge City may be forced to pay higher flood insurance premiums which will cause a strain on their finances. He added, the timing is not good.

However, a Bridge City Council member, Mike Reed, stood and addressed the insurance issue.

“The city is exploring getting an engineering firm and the city is looking at joining a coalition with other cities,” he said. “I assure you the city is going to do everything they can to not just delay it but make it go away,” he said of the potential insurance increases.

“We want to hear the communities thoughts,” King said.

He hope everyone will come to the next meeting and be a part of the decision-making process.