River Valley Intermediate School

River Valley Intermediate School would be converted into a middle school as part of the proposal, which would eliminate intermediate schools.

A Midway Independent School District facility study committee recommended Tuesday that the school board call a November bond election for $177 million that would address the needs of the growing school district.

The bond package as proposed includes building a new elementary school, eliminating intermediate schools and repurposing the buildings, and renovating Midway Middle School.

Committee members said the major concern for the Midway district is growth, with student enrollment projections adding more than 2,000 in 10 years, committee representative Carly Webb said.

Midway’s enrollment is 8,088. In 10 years, enrollment is expected to reach 10,700, and that is a conservative estimate, committee representative Scott Bland said.

“We’re not getting any smaller, and this is not going to get any cheaper,” he said.

As proposed, the bond issue would increase taxes by $7.19 per month on the average Midway ISD home, valued at $226,000.

“That’s about a Starbucks a month,” Webb said.

The committee recommended eliminating intermediate schools that serve fifth- and sixth-grade students, converting Woodgate Intermediate School into an elementary school and converting River Valley Intermediate School into a middle school. Middle schools would serve sixth through eighth grades, and elementary schools would serve prekindergarten through fifth grade.

The committee members said eliminating intermediate schools aligns with the state curriculum and encourages stronger relationships between students, staff and families because students would not change schools as often. The new grade configurations also would result in less commuting for families and more opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities.

Realigning the grades and, therefore, the schools moves Midway closer to “getting back to the neighborhood school,” committee representative James Karney said.

School board president Pete Rusek said trustees would hold workshops throughout the summer to digest the information presented by the committee and hammer out the details of a potential bond package, if that is the direction in which the board decides to go.

The deadline to call for a Nov. 5 bond election is Aug. 19.

Most of the $177 million bond proposal constitutes construction costs to build the new elementary school and convert the intermediate schools. The bond issue would set aside $148 million for construction that would also include additions for career and technology programs at the high school.

Other costs include:

  • $2.8 million for renovation of the performing arts center; addition of instruments, equipment, technology and storage; and the addition of a high school theater parking lot and band practice field
  • $13 million for athletic locker rooms and meeting rooms and training room
  • $4.5 million for new technology data center
  • $8 million to replace HVAC systems and roofs

“We were united in this being our proposal,” Bland said of the facility study committee. “What it means is you have 40 people in the community who are going to be championing this, if you guys decide to move forward.”

The planning process for this bond proposal began in 2017, when the district distributed a community survey seeking input on ways to improve Midway ISD. The district received 1,725 responses from various community members, parents, alumni, students and business leaders.

The facility study committee began meeting bimonthly, starting Oct. 4. Members made recommendations based on the survey results, a demographic study and a plethora of research, including visits to schools.

Webb said the committee sat down together and distilled the information before them down into what was most important to address the district’s growth.

“We have to say as a community this is important and this is worth $70 a year,” she said.

Bland said his concern is the bond is not big enough, given Midway’s expected growth.

“We are at the limit for what I think we can ask the community to do right now,” he said.

The recommendations include making the athletic facilities more secure and building separate locker rooms to segregate grade levels. Some schools are bursting at the seams, with teachers resorting to tutoring in the hallways at South Bosque Elementary School, Karney said.

“Growth is coming, and it’s not going to go away,” he said. “It needs to be addressed. Otherwise, we’ll be looking at portable buildings on all the elementary campuses.”

Webb added that portable buildings do not expand cafeterias, gyms or libraries, so they are only a temporary solution.

“Midway ISD is getting dangerously close to being essentially like an inner-city school, and passing this gives us the capacity to put schools back in the community,” Bland said. “Midway has become very impersonal. It’s gotten so big, and our kids are just crammed together.”

Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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