By BRAD KEITH
DUBLIN (January 18, 2016) — Dublin voters will decide on May 7 if the school district will make approximately $10 million in facility improvements and upgrades, including construction of a $4.5 million football stadium at the secondary campus.
“I don’t want anybody to pay more taxes, but I think our kids deserve it,” said Keith Riley, president of a 14-person committee that explored the district’s facility and security needs. “I’m not one to be okay with just being okay.”
Trustees voted unanimously Monday evening to call the bond election, which will be held in conjunction with the local general election, and selected Underwood Law Firm, already the general counsel for the district, to serve as bond counsel.
The measure facing Dublin voters includes (costs are estimations presented to the board):
1. District-wide security improvements – $586,636
2. Elementary School Multipurpose Facility – $603,355
3. Tennis Courts at Secondary Campus – $780,430
4. Football Stadium at Secondary Campus – $4,552,563
5. Eight-lane competition track – $1,273,399
6. Baseball/Softball facility improvements – $100,000
7. Concession stands/restrooms – $1,500,000
It was recommended to the board that should the bond pass it be financed over a 20-year term – considered by financial advisor John Blackburn to be long enough to keep the tax increase reasonable but short enough to keep from over-paying interest.
Blackburn informed trustees the cost to Dublin property owners would be just under $100 per year for homes valued at $50,000, or just under $200 per year for homes valued at $100,000. He said the average home in Dublin is valued at $47,000, and also indicated Dublin should qualify for state assistance to the tune of 20 percent because it is considered a property poor district.
Riley was the only committee member to address the board. At least two other committee members – Willard Mann and Tommy Cisneroz – attended the meeting. The committee also includes Dublin Mayor David Leatherwood, school trustee Charlie Bradberry [also present], Erath County Precinct 2 Constable Lee Roy Gaitan, Steve Hightower, Jill Moore and others.
“I believe the better our facilities are, the more people will want to go to Dublin schools,” Riley said. “I think the facilities we have now, basketball and volleyball-wise are pretty good. Track we’re kind of doing halfway, and if we’re not doing it all the way we’re cheating our kids.”
Many of the committee’s recommendations were safety related, and their presentation to the board was passed on to voters in its entirety.
This will include renovations to the public entry at the elementary school, requiring visitors to pass through the office and be released into the rest of the building.
“The more difficult you can make it to navigate and the longer you can make it take to get to the kids, the more lives you’re going to save,” said Dublin Superintendent Dr. Rodney Schneider, referring to the possibility of intrusion by dangerous individuals, such as school shootings seen in other areas of the country.
Key card access was discussed at several points on Dublin campuses, and Riley said the biggest advantage to moving all athletic and agriculture/FFA facilities to the secondary campus was less travel back and forth by students and others. It would also streamline many activities.
“Paid teachers and coaches should be using their time teaching our kids, not driving them back and forth,” Riley said.
At the elementary school, the bond calls for kitchen improvements and cafeteria renovations, new carpet, paint for interior walls, new door knobs for classrooms that can be locked from the inside and classroom storage.
The plan calls for a new heat and air conditioning unit at the intermediate school gym. If it passes, the secondary campus, in addition to the football stadium, tennis courts and track, will also see upgrades to its baseball and softball fields, locker room renovations and expansion and Ag facilities possibly moved from near the Dublin airport to the back of the property at the secondary campus.
All specific pieces of the bond are subject to change by the board of trustees after feedback from engineers, architects and others such contractors.
All parties seemed in agreement better facilities could serve as a boost to the local economy.
“I know we had four customers come in on Saturday and they were only here because of the powerlifting meet, so I’m all for it,” said Bradberry, who operates Bradberry Building Supplies. “If you have good school facilities, they will bring people to our community.”