WACO, TX — A committee of 60 parents, faculty and other community members met for five months in regards to upgrades Waco ISD schools could use. In conclusion, the committee suggests replacing and completely rebuilding Waco High, G.W. Carver, Tennyson Middle and Kendrick Elementary schools.
All four schools were either built in the early '60s and '50s so it's time for a change according to committee member Aaron Zimmerman.
"You couldn't walk through these campuses without being aware that it's pretty obvious so many of these schools were built a very long time ago," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman is a parent, has two kids attending Waco High and the third is at Tennyson Middle School.
"The other option would be maintaining these really old dilapidated buildings at the cost of tens of millions of dollars over the next few decades doesn't really make sense when you have schools some of which were built before desegregation," Zimmerman said.
New buildings cost money and with four new buildings, it would increase the school's tax rate ultimately increasing taxpayer dollars by $12.23. Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon believes the updated buildings could impact everyone in a positive way.
"This work will enhance not only the environment for the kids for learning but also the equity among facilities," Dr. Kincannon said.
Increasing taxpayer dollars is always a big ask by a school district, Zimmerman feels if the bond election isn't passed Waco ISD will continue to do all it can for its students.
"Waco ISD will continue to pay for the education of our students if we don't modernize and update our schools we will pay for it in having the kind of students who are educated in an environment that is lacking," Zimmerman said.
Happy to be a part of the committee, Zimmerman says although their work is done he'll continue to watch the progress of Waco ISD.
This committee recommendation totals, $376.1 million in changes. These changes however may seem expensive are for the students and their ability to learn in an environment that is enjoyable and able to help them progress through the years.
"We'll be looking to add more collaboration spaces and modernize our facilities in such a way the kind of learning that we want for our students," Dr. Kincannon said.
Zimmerman says it's a simple 'yes' if you have kids that attend Waco ISD, if you don't Zimmerman asks you to think about what others may think driving through Waco.
"We've got thousands of people coming to Waco on a weekly basis, do you want them to drive through town and see Waco schools that are crumbling or do you want them to see gleaming facilities that says Waco cares about their education, cares about its future and cares about its children," Zimmerman said.
Architects will present the community advisory committee’s recommendations to the school board in June. The school board will then review the recommendations and decide which projects to move forward as well as whether to seek voter approval to issue bonds to pay for the construction of new schools. For that question to appear on the ballot this November, the school board would need to call a bond election by mid-August.