VON ORMY— With overwhelming support, voters gave Southwest ISD approval to move forward with the sale of $165 million in bonds for a series of projects that are designed to address a dramatic increase in students.
$161.4 million will fund the construction of a new high school and middle school on 200 acres of land that the district owns near Somerset Rd. and Watson Rd. New roads will be constructed to access the site that once contained a race track. The middle school will be constructed first, with an expected opening of 2016 and 2017 for the high school.
Anne Maria Espinoza, Director of Communication for Southwest ISD, told the Star, “In addition to the new campuses, the bond provides funds to improve our existing campuses so that all of our students have equal access to the best learning environment.”
Southwest High School will receive $11.3 million in renovations, including electrical improvement and better disability access. McAuliffe Middle School will receive $10.3 million for a new science lab wing, renovated office areas, classroom enhancements and ADA compliant parking lot. Big Country Elementary will receive $4.3 million for new science labs, gym, air conditioning improvements and parking lot. Indian Creek Elementary will receive $5.2 million for a new kitchen, classroom enhancements, air conditioning and roof gym.
Espinoza explained that State of Texas will contribute 51% of the districts' annual bond payment and local taxpayers will pay the remaining 49%. This will be $144 per year for the district’s average taxable home value of $63,080.00.
Southwest had grown at a predictable modest pace of 2.3% per year for the last eleven years. However, recent enrollment has been nearly double the historic rate. And the current year has already surpassed last years growth only mid-way through the year. This growth is occurring evenly across the district and is not concentrated in any area.
Espinoza noted that, “the greatest capacity need we currently have is at the middle school level, which is why it will be built first.” In addition to buildings the bond calls for the purchase of $3.1 million in new buses and $10.5 million to bring technology into the hands of each student.
Responding to the Star’s question of what new schools will be named, Espinoza replied, “Southwest has a practice of naming middle school for astronauts and elementary school for physical features, such as streams, roads or neighborhoods, but none for high schools.”
The Von Ormy City Council recently passed a unanimous resolution suggesting the name “Von Ormy High School.” Von Ormy Councilwoman Sally Martinez noted during discussion of the resolution that, “Von Ormy High School is a geographic designation like the present high school and a name that already instills community pride and support. I think that makes it an option worthy of consideration.”