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Board meeting poses new middle school addition, construction bid

Meara Isenberg, Editor-in-Chief

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With wreaths hung above the chairs of Coppell ISD Board of Trustees and the winner of this year’s Coppell Christmas card announced, Monday’s December board meeting began with some holiday cheer.

However, the last Board of Trustees meeting until Jan. 23 addressed many issues and updates occurring in the community.

Perhaps the most pressing of items on the agenda was the update on the new middle school and enrollment, given by assistant superintendent for business and support services Sid Grant.

Grant explained that after a meeting with Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip and a demographer, the number of expected students enrolling in Coppell schools has exceeded what was earlier predicted.

“We’re not necessarily seeing additional growth yet that we weren’t seeing [before], because we know the new neighborhoods, new developments, that had remained fixed,” Grant said. “What we’re seeing is an acceleration of that growth. We’re seeing more students out of these developments, more quickly than what was originally anticipated and predicted by the demographer.”

This unprecedented growth has been seen with elementary school numbers, where the demographers initial prediction of 5,900 to 6,000 students by the 2020-21 school year, has now been updated to at least 6,000 by the 2019-20 school year.

Similar prediction increases have been found at middle school levels as well.

In order to meet this unexpectedly high number of students, Grant is proposing a 28,000 square feet addition to the new middle school currently under construction in Cypress Waters. The district plans to run this bid as an alternate to the regular school bid.

“We have asked our architects to go ahead and design an addition for the new middle school,” Grant said. “[The addition] would easily house 300 or more additional students on that campus.”

A meeting with the bond oversight committee to discuss the guaranteed maximum price recommendation is scheduled for Jan. 9.

Before he took questions, Grant posed the obvious question swirling in the heads of everyone in the room: “How in the world will we pay for that?”

After an audit of the nearly complete 2013 bond election projects, Grant and CFO Kelly Penny found remaining funds from the bonds, after subtracting funds still owed and still being used, will be enough to fund an addition of up to $6 million.

This, according to Grant, would mean no new additional bonds under the 2016 bond election would have to be sold, “if everything works out like we hope it will.”

This proposal was met with some pragmatic questions from trustee Tracy Fisher, who asked for a clear demographers report on the reasons behind the accelerated growth.

“Here’s my concern, we’re talking about accelerated growth, we don’t know where that’s coming from,” Fisher said. “It’s not just the buildings that we’re building, it’s regeneration. This regeneration is going to make a huge impact on our community.

“The other piece to that I’m worried about is the middle school solution. I know we expanded [Coppell Middle School East], we added 200 students there, now we are adding 300 more students to the new middle school. Is that it? Is that all we’re going to have by 2021? Or do we need another solution?… I think we need to be more thoughtful about how we solve the problem.”

Although Grant plans the new proposal will be covered by previous bonds, trustee Amy Dungan was cautious about the possibility of raising taxes in the community.

“We have to be, I can’t even stress this enough, careful about the tax rate, and what it would do to this community,” Dungan said. “We’ve got to be more than thoughtful when discussing any possibility of raising it.”

Also discussed during the meeting were items regarding marketing and business partnerships, including CISDs plan to trademark their logo.

For more information from Monday’s board meeting, you can watch the full stream here.

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Board meeting poses new middle school addition, construction bid