By Kathi Bliss
A long and winding road has led the community to this moment.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the Lockhart Independent School District Board of Trustees will consider a variety of options for a sweeping renovation and reconstruction project at Lockhart High School, and then decide whether they intend to call a bond election to pay for it.
During an extensive special called meeting on Monday evening, the Trustees heard a recap of the history of the project, which began with a Facilities Assessment Task Force being appointed last spring and culminated this week with a team of consultant and architects presenting conceptual designs for a new, redesigned Lockhart High School.
The project manager and consultant Robert Gadbois, who has been instrumental in the process from the opening salvo, reminded the Trustees that although the high school renovation is arguably the most important piece of the “needs” puzzle, it is in no way the only thing the Trustees need to consider.
“Your elementary schools are over functional capacity,” Gadbois said. “The facilities plan includes the construction of a new elementary school as well. But the high school is simply not educationally adequate.”
A variety of options have been presented over the last several months, but ultimately the consensus both of the task force and the Board seems to be that a massive renovation should take place at Lockhart High School, the freshman student body should be moved back to the Lion Country Drive location, and the ML Cisneros Campus should be repurposed, but kept as an integral part of the campus inventory.
Gadbois estimates the total cost of the project, which will include the high school renovation, the elementary school construction and a variety of capital improvements, will cost up to $62 million.
There are a number of ways the project can be financed, but if the project is to move forward, it will require a bond election, where voters must approve the debt for the project.
LISD Chief Finance Officer Tina Knudsen gave the Trustees a presentation about the District’s current borrowing power, and noted the District presently has a borrowing capacity of $68.5 million.
She said the borrowing could be done in phases, or all at once, but that the total impact of the indebtedness would reach around $325 per year on a $115,000 home.
Though some trustees balked at that figure, they also discussed the necessity of making sure the improvements are met for the future of the LISD student population.
The Trustees saw three potential plans for high school renovations, each of which include expanded classroom space, the construction of a performing arts center, improvements to sports facilities and an expansion of the Career and Technology Education wing, the Trustees and administrators came to a consensus that two of those three plans will be the most workable.
However, they also invited public input on the schematic designs.
Updated sketches will be presented, and public input heard at the District’s next regular meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at the Lockhart High School Conference Center (Old Library) at 6:30 p.m.
The meeting is open to the public and public participation is encouraged.
Editor’s Note: Because of the importance of the renovation project and the Board’s desire for public input, Monday’s meeting will be rebroadcast in full on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10 on Wednesday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m