A survey for a facility bond package for the Midway Independent School District could be sent around late June or early July if the school board takes action on hiring an independent agency on Tuesday.
In May the Momentum Facility Study Committee - which is comprised of about 40 community members, including parents – recommended a facility bond package worth $177 million dollars to the Midway ISD school board.
Scott Bland is a member on the facility committee, father and owner of a local construction company.
He said an initial survey of residents in March 2017 had questions about student achievement, community engagement, facilities and funding priorities. The responses found one common problem among the community.
“The survey also showed that one of the primary concerns of the survey respondents was overcrowding,” Bland said.
There are about 8,200 children in Midway ISD that currently serves 10 schools – including one highschool, one middle school, two intermediate schools and 6 elementary schools. The bond proposal includes building a new elementary school, eliminating the two intermediate schools -Woodgate and River Valley - and repurposing them as an elementary and middle school respectively.
Bland said making these changes would mean more room for kids as Midway ISD grows - at a reasonable cost.
“Student population is too high for the facilities as they currently are and then over the next five years it’s going to get worse and worse and worse every year.”
The district also is expecting their student population to grow over 10,000 in the next 10 years.
James Karney is the former Director of Waco-McLennan County Library. He is on the facility committee and also a father of a child with special needs.
He said after the facility committee was formed, they spent the majority of their time becoming familiar with the needs of each school, as well as funding capacities, state school finance laws and analyzing demographic studies.
Karney said the overcrowding issue is district wide and at every level – like South Bosque Elementary.
“They are a school that is already over capacity, has four portable buildings that they use, and you know when teachers need to tutor a student or something like that, any wide spot in a hallway becomes a tutoring center,” Karney said.
Bland also said the lack of space and the use of portable buildings is a safety concern for some parents.
“Those kids and teachers are completely exposed, there are no secure lockable doors, the district can’t afford to pay security to be there all the time and from a security standpoint that is really unacceptable," Bland said.
At Midway Middle School kids are there for summer school, camps and other activities. The proposed bond would improve the Performing Arts Center which is shared district wide - like adding more energy efficient lighting.
The bond also includes the addition of instruments, equipment, technology and storage to be dispersed equitably throughout the schools, a high school theater parking lot and band practice field and athletic lockers for meeting and training.
Carly Webb, a facility committee member, mom and substitute teacher for Midway ISD said the athletic lockers are an important addition because currently 9th through 12th graders are sharing the same ovecrowed space.
“It’s a really big sticking point and I think as a committee we really struggled with it because we know how are community feels about the athletic portion of this" Webb said. "But we just could not see security-wise, safety-wise continuing to put these younger and older students together.”
Midway High School was built for about 1,800 students. The 2008 and 2013 bonds increased that to about 2,400 students, but the school is currently serving over that capacity. The proposed bond would increase the capacity by 500 to about 3,100 students.
Traci Marlin is the public information officer for Midway ISD.
She said some opponents of the bond are concerned about the price tag – which would increase the property tax that has remained at a steady $1.32 per $100 valuation for about 10 years. Marlin said could increase up to about $1.36.
According to data from the McLennan County Tax Office, if Midway ISD did adopt the bond as is the tax rate would be close to both Moody and Ching Spring ISDs. It was also be in the mid-range of tax rates compared to the other school districts in McLennan County.
Midway also recieves the least in state revenue per student at $915. They are also the second lowest in total state and local maintenance and operations revenue per student at $7,778 in the county.
Marlin also said athletics are a hot button topic for some opponents, but says having those programs are beneficial for many kids.
"It helps with attendance, it helps with grades," Marlin said. "Our athletes – the no pass no play kind of policy really holds some kids accountable that they might not otherwise care about.”
If the school board decides to take action on hiring an independent agency to conduct the survey on Tuesday, then the survey may be sent around late June or early August.
Marlin said the school board will be able to take the results from the survey in order to determine whether or not to hold a special election in November. The deadline to call for a special election is August 19th.
More information about the proposed bond and the results from the intial survey can be found at midwaymomentum.org.