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Henderson ISD could make 3rd attempt at bond

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HENDERSON (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Henderson ISD will decide next week whether to make a third attempt at getting voter approval for a new middle school.

Trustees could call a bond election during a Monday meeting, which is scheduled for noon in the board room, 200 N. High St. An open forum will take place at the meeting.

The bond, estimated at $27 million, would fund a new middle school on the site of the current facility. The district plans to incorporate three older middle school buildings, including the band hall and sixth-grade wing, into a new campus.

Last week, the district received information from its financial adviser on how the bond would affect the tax rate, and an architect talked about potential project cost and had renderings of what the new campus might look like, Superintendent Keith Boles said.

If a bond election occurred and the issue passed, there would be about a 9-cent tax rate increase for district residents, he said.

That means someone with a $100,000 home in the district wo­uld pay an additional $4.88 per month.

As far as looks, Boles said the new school would be one story, and students would no longer have to go outside in between classes because everything would be under one roof.

Safety is a big concern at Henderson Middle School because there are nine separate buildings and 44 entrances, Stacey Sullivan, director of human resources and communication, said.

"There's no way to keep our students from going building to building," she said last week. "They have to go in between buildings while changing classes."

The age of the building also is a concern, she said, citing foundation issues, two classrooms that no longer are deemed safe and less than adequate technology infrastructure.

She noted that Henderson High School has advanced technology as well as a Bring Your Own Device program, which allows students to use electronic devices, such as tablets, cellphones and laptops in classrooms with teacher permission. However, the district cannot do the same at the current middle school, Ms. Sullivan said last week.

Additionally, she has said classroom sizes at the middle school are not in line with Texas Education Agency standards, and the school is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

If a bond passed, the district would have community and staff committees that would meet with the architect and help with the middle school's design, Boles said.

This would be the third time that a new middle school has gone before the public.

In 2011, voters narrowly defeated a $26 million bond that would have funded a middle school.

Before that bond, a $39.2 million bond failed in November 2010 that would have funded a middle school, renovations and additions at Northside Intermediate School, an auditorium at Henderson High School and artificial turf at Lions Stadium.

"The needs haven't changed," Boles said. "The needs we had back in 2011 are still there. The building has served us well, but now it's ... in constant need of repair."

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