Alvarado ISD trustees overcame another hurdle in building a new Alvarado Junior High School on Monday when they unanimously voted to hold a $38.2 million May 11 bond election.
If voters approve the bond, funds will be used to build the new junior high and finish out half of an upstairs area at Alvarado High School for career and technology classes.
“We cannot tell people to vote ‘yes,’” Superintendent Chester Juroska said. “But we can tell them the reasons that are factual of why we are asking for a new junior high. Everything I’ve heard is positive. I’m not naive enough to think 100 percent will be in favor of it; I’m sure I’ve yet to hear from those people.”
This is the second time AISD has called for a bond election in recent years. The first bond request — $44 million — was voted down in late 2010. That money would have, among other things, funded the new junior high and a parking lot for the football stadium.
Juroska said the district is past the point of simply dealing with the junior high’s problems and hazards.
The building is nearly 50 years old and contains various levels of asbestos in multiple areas. Carpeting, instead of being torn up and replaced as needed, has to be taped down so as not to disturb the underlying asbestos, which is harmful if disturbed. Other types of repairs are also advised against. Teachers are asked not to staple items to the walls.
While asbestos was a common building material decades ago because it is fire retardant, it is no longer used because of its health hazards, such as a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
As Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Estes said last week at an Alvarado Chamber of Commerce meeting, the school is nicknamed “Old Stinky” thanks to skunks and rodents.
Revamping the school to bring it up to standards would cost nearly $30 million, and it wouldn’t have the lifespan of a brand new building, administrators said.
The election could take place with the city council and AISD board election, which includes places 1, 2 and 3 held by Tom Durington, Kelly Price and William Kaschub, respectively. However, the city, board or both could cancel if no one files against the incumbents. As of Tuesday, no one had filed for any of the three open trustee places.
In other business, the board revised its mileage reimbursement plan and approved the 2013-14 school calendar.
The board reduced the reimbursement requirement from a 100-mile radius to 75 miles. However, if there are no district vehicles available and two or more employees are traveling in one vehicle, there is no mileage requirement.
“Because of the sacrifices our teachers have made over the last couple years, we have a little breathing room with the budget to make minor adjustments,” Rodney Toon, AISD business manager said. “Our teachers are occasionally asked to attend trainings or workshops around the area and we wanted to take advantage of our opportunity to ease some of the burden of having to travel out of district.”
School district employees voted on a school calendar last week and the calendar that received the most votes, which includes the traditional weeklong break at Thanksgiving and two-week break at Christmas, was unanimously approved by the board.
The calendar also includes beginning school on Tuesday, August 27 and ending the year on Wednesday, June 4.
Tommy Brown contributed to this story.