Early voting began Monday and continues through Oct. 31, followed by the election on November 4th. On the ballot is a $25 million bond election for the Bridge City School District.

The proposed bond is a result of nearly two years of discussions by administrators, directors and community members. Following the creation of the Community Facility Committee, the needs of the district began to come to the surface. The committee began by taking tours of the facilities, holding meetings, leading community meetings and by creating community surveys. 

If passed, the  $25 million bond will enable the district to build the Cardinal Complex and make needed repairs on existing issues. 

“We are excited for the community to have the chance to vote on the project,” said Mike King, BCISD superintendent. 

Currently, the high school does not have a regulation stage or practice facility for Theater Arts. There is not a facility that is designed for concerts, theater and dance performances. 

The Cardinal Complex is planned to be a 28,000 square foot building. The building would include a lobby, restrooms, mechanical rooms, concession, auditorium, stage, back stage and dressing room. The project is slated to be 22 percent of the total amount which is $5.5 million. As a result of the high ceilings in the auditorium the projected costs are higher per square foot. 

The theater, band, dance, choir practice and classroom areas are 29,000 square feet. The costs is  projected to be 21 percent of the total bond amount or $5.25 million.  The athletic area of the Cardinal Complex is 27,000 square feet and is projected to be 20 percent of the total bond amount or $5 million.

In addition, there will be seven additional classrooms are 11,500 square feet. This is projected to be nine percent of the total bond amount or $2.25 million. The renovations at the baseball/softball complex will be six percent or $1.4 million.

Citizens have expressed some concerns about the increase in costs. 

According to information from BCISD, in comparison to current facilities, utility cost for the additional square footage of the completed project would result in a 1.3 percent increase to the district budget. However, there would not be a need for additional administrators for the building due to the construction and layout. Plus, there would not be any additional teachers needed since the facility is for existing programs and classes. The only additional personnel would be in the form of up  to two extra custodians.

Some issues on the current structures could not wait for a bond to be passed. The cooling tower at the middle school was replaced  during the 2011-12 school year. It was an independent engineering firm in the spring of 2012 who did an evaluation of the chiller unit at BCMS. The unit was determined to be operating well within specifications. It was also determined the air conditioning issues could be attributed to the old pneumatic system of the control boxes in the trunk lines throughout the building. 

In the summer of 2013 the district replaced all the pneumatic systems in the control boxes with state-of-the-art digital systems. The new systems allow the temperature to be controlled  and monitored on site at the thermostat and remotely from the Service Center. 

As issues arise they are communicated to the campus principal and the service department. Both groups monitor the issue to ensure the matter is resolved. Since the installation of the new digital systems and the initiation of the monitoring system, the volume of air conditioning issues on the campus has decreased dramatically.

Along with the evaluations and upgrades in the HVAC at the middle school, the campus has a roof which was retrofitted in the 90s  from a flat roof to a metal roof. A large part of the roof was replaced after Hurricane Rita in 2005 and therefore is relatively new considering the lifespan of a roof. 

In addition, there have been major technology upgrades at the BCMS campus in all of the classrooms. A new WiFi system is slated to be installed during the upcoming summer months. Due to the upgrades, the middle school building has five to six classrooms for growth. It is also said to be in excellent shape for the age of the structure. 

Members of the community have questioned when they can expect to see the increase in their taxes. if the bond should pass. 

Taxpayers 65-years-old or older  will not see an increase in their taxes on their primary homesteaded residence. Their taxes are frozen. 

However, for the remainder of taxpayers,  there is a projected 24 to 30 months from the time the bond passes and the bonds are sold as construction progresses. Therefore, the total tax rate of $0.19 will not be added until all the bonds are sold, according to information from BCISD. 

Also on the minds of the community has been about why the District’s website reflects a deficit budget being adopted for the last 3 years. On the Maintenance and Operation, M&O, side of the budget the district has adopted a balanced budget. The M&O is the side of the budget that is used for the operation of the district. The deficit reflected is on the Interest and Sinking side of the budget. As I&S taxes have been collected over the years, an I&S fund balance has been created. This I&S fund balance can only be used to pay debt service. This debt is the result of the revenue on the I&S side being higher than expenditures and the district has made the choice to use this I&S fund balance to keep the I&S rate at 0.15. I&S fund balance can only be used to pay down debt. This reflected deficit is due to this use of I&S fund balance in this manner and is not reflective of the day to day operation of the district which falls under the M&O side of the budget.

Anyone wanting additional information can find it on the school district’s website, www.bridgecityisd.net. There is a link on the page for bond information. 

King encourages everyone to get out and vote.