Ballot has millions in school bonds
Voters will decide on upgrades to facilities at two districts in southern Bexar County
When early voting begins Oct. 22, residents of two school districts on Bexar County’s southern edges will be asked to approve bond issues for new and improved facilities.
About 14,000 students attend Southwest ISD, which includes denser residential neighborhoods and rural areas. The school district grew rapidly until enrollment recently plateaued, but two new developments will add hundreds of new homes in the area, Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft said. District voters last approved a bond six years ago, funding the new Legacy High and Resnik Middle schools.
The new proposal includes $17.2 million for a natatorium that would be open to the public in the summer, Verstuyft said. The city of San Antonio has already allocated $4 million for the facility, which would be next to McAuliffe Middle School off Loop 410 near several subdivi-
sions. The district uses Palo Alto College’s natatorium for secondgrade swim lessons and high school varsity competition, but it’s in such high demand that the team’s practice times are limited, he said.
“We think a natatorium also could be an economic driver in our backyard,” Verstuyft said. “We’re trying to build for the future of Southwest ISD, and we think this would be one of those mechanisms that would encourage people to move into this side of San Antonio.”
25 years without upgrades
The bond package also includes $18.2 million for renovations to Southwest High School, which is more than 30 years old, and $12.8 million for upgrades at Scobee Middle School.
One target for modernization is Southwest High’s health academy, with lecture and lab spaces for students working toward nursing assistant certifications or other medical careers, Verstuyft said.
Among the district’s four middle schools, Scobee has gone the longest without major renova- tions, about 25 years, he said. Aging equipment, ceilings, floors and walls would be repaired or replaced. The cafeteria would get more space for serving lines and music halls would get upgraded sound barriers, said Brandon Crisp, assistant superintendent for business and finance.
Southwest’s bond proposal would also upgrade heading, ventilation and air conditioning, replace roofs at four schools, purchase more computer tablets for students, replace school buses, resurface tracks at all the middle schools and renovate the bus depot.
A 45-member panel of community members and district employees recommended Southwest’s board take the proposal to the voters as an oppor- tunity to set the district up for the next “generation of learners,” Verstuyft said.
Southwest ISD would not need to increase taxes if voters approve the bond because the district has paid enough of its current debt to take on more, Crisp said.
$14.6M indoor facility
About 6,000 students attend Southside ISD, where voters last year approved a bond that paid for construction of the Menchaca Early Childhood Center, additions to Southside High School and the conversion of Losoya Intermediate into a middle school.
That bond had been expected to increase the average Southside ISD homeowner’s tax bill by $7.25 per month, but rising property values allowed the district to subsequently lower its tax rate for debt service by 3 cents per $100, said district spokesman Randy Escamilla.
This year’s proposal would include a $14.6 million multipurpose indoor facility for band, dance, cheerleading, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and community use, Escamilla said.
It would also renovate locker rooms throughout the district and upgrade the track at Matthey Middle School. The high school would get six tennis courts, and Losoya Middle would get a practice field. Improvements to parking and security at the district’s stadium and pedestrian walkways and lighting in parking lots also would be funded.
“The academic issues that we addressed in Bond 2017 were pressing issues regarding the growth in our district,” Escamilla said. “We knew we’d face pushback to athletic enhancements and we did not want to jeopardize the passage of the academic bond. ... These are all needs that our community and leadership team examined, and since there was no increase in property taxes, it was felt that this was the best decision for the needs of our community.”