Reality Of New Elementary School Lies In Voters’ Hands

By Katie Duvall
Courier Reporter

There is much in store for Grapeland ISD this upcoming year. Vast improvements are planned for the baseball field, the elementary school, Lorena Shoultz Auditorium and the old junior high. Superintendent Gregg Spivey expressed in a Courier interview that there is positive feedback for the possibility of a new school. There will also be public meetings for the community to make sure everyone is well informed to what is all included in the plans for the bond. The bond issue has to pass for the school to be able to complete such plans.

The bond amount will be $9.6 million in total. $7.7 million of that money will be used to build a completely new elementary school including a cafeteria, playground and gym. The new building will also include 18 classrooms. The remaining $1.9 million will be going to the renovation of the Lorena Shoultz Auditorium, which will be getting new speakers and seats; the relocation of the baseball field, which will be moving over by the softball field, and the demolition of the old junior high building.

When it comes to the building of the elementary school, the process is time saving and more efficient. The current elementary school will be demolished and the new one built in its place. The company chosen for building the school is Ramtech, which builds modular buildings. The buildings are built the same way as regular site buildings and will be like other usual school facilities. Building the facility this way saves an estimated $3 million and an extra six to seven months of construction. Ramtech will also be seeking to use local contractors in the construction of the facility.

"They can actually build portions of the building in their factory in Mansfield, Texas and ship it out here and drop it down. . . They secure it there on the slab," Spivey explained.

The original elementary school was built in 1955 so it is time for a new updated facility to be built so that it can accommodate students better.

"They have been discussing this for at least 20 years," Board President Eddie Childress said, referring to the building of the new elementary school.

It is easy to tell how excited the board members are about the changes that will be taking place. On Jan. 28, Spivey, Childress and Allen Cheatham went to the plant where the facility will be built. They were all impressed with the company and pleased with how the future building will be. The group also went to look at other school buildings that were built by Ramtech and felt confident that they had chosen the right company for the job.

"I'll cover it like a student's point of view. The way I see it they deserve the best and they deserve the best teacher, best facilities . . . I believe as a community we have to do it. It's hard for me to not promote the bond. . . we have to go out and present facts, we can't promote it. But I can promote children and I can say that every child deserves the best education that they can possibly get and a lot of times that involves the building and what the building has to offer," Elementary Principal Don Jackson said.

The construction should last around eight to nine months, so Grapeland ISD expects to be in the school by August 2017, if voters approve the bond issue.

The completion of these projects, according to Spivey, will:
- Provide a safe and secure environment for our elementary students.
- Enhance the school district's facilities
- Increase school and community pride
- Increase the use of the auditorium by the school district and community

The maximum annual tax impact based on the maximum tax increase will be as low as $74.20 and as high as $519.43. This is based on the state mandated residential $25,000 homestead exemption and the appraised value, according to bond election information.

Grapeland ISD will be holding a bond election on Saturday, May 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grapeland High School library. Early voting for the bond will be held at the Grapeland ISD Administration building on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Monday, April 25 and lasting until Tuesday, May 3.