By BRAD KELLAR
Local residents could receive a call next month, asking them if they are in favor of the Greenville Independent School District issuing bonds next spring to pay for a career and technology center.
The district is also planning to make updates to aging district facilities in order to address concerns over the safety and security of the buildings, according to information released Monday by Greenville ISD Superintendent Don Jefferies, who said “21st century workforce requirements demand technologically skilled and socially adept employees. These requirements necessitate GISD’s partnership with the local workforce to design educational programs to advance and hone these skills in our students.”
The district recently received an assessment of district facilities and also hired a company to determine if Greenville residents would support a bond proposal.
Jefferies said a career and technology center — to further the district’s national and world championship winning FFA, robotics and STEM programs — is one of the options the district is considering in a possible bond package for the May 2014 election. Jefferies said the Greenville ISD also plans to address safety, security and structural deficiencies in the district’s facilities, many of which were constructed in the 1950s.
“Family and social situations are different today than when many of our facilities were designed and constructed,” Jefferies said. “Additionally, safety and security issues need to be addressed through facility design.”
A bond steering committee composed of parents, business leaders and local officials was formed in February. Jefferies said the committee has met monthly to discuss potential bond package items.
The Greenville ISD board recently hired Huckabee Architects of Dallas. One of the firm’s first tasks was to complete a facility assessment report. The 714-page report was shared with the board one week ago. Jefferies said Huckabee will meet with the bond steering committee in January to discuss the report and next steps.
Beginning in November, Baselice & Associates, Inc., an Austin-based research organization, will be conducting a phone survey with local citizens.
“If you receive a call, please participate in this very important survey,” Jefferies said. “Answers collected will help drive bond package decisions.” Jefferies said the district adopted the lowest tax rate in 20 years in 2012-13 and maintains the second lowest tax rate in the county, adding that while receiving the highest designation of “Superior Achievement” on the Texas Education Agency’s financial accountability system, the Greenville ISD is dedicated to financial prudence.
“A comprehensive and researched bond package will help Greenville ISD stay on a track of excellence and innovation while still being respectful stewards of tax dollars,” Jefferies said.