Home Local & In-Depth Judson ISD to design 6th middle school ahead of potential bond

Judson ISD to design 6th middle school ahead of potential bond

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Wortham Oaks Elementary School students toss water balloons and play other games on June 2, the next-to-final day of school. A proposed middle school could be built next door. Courtesy photo/Judson Independent School District

LIVE OAK — Judson Independent School District officials are weighing the prospect of another bond issue, but they are going ahead with designing an envisioned sixth middle school.

The school board June 3 voted unanimously to approve $5.7 million for design services and selection ranking for an architectural firm. Construction could cost an estimated $66 million, officials said.

JISD’s sixth middle school would sit on a parcel of land adjacent to Wortham Oaks Elementary School in the district’s northernmost part, in unincorporated Bexar County. Wortham Oaks is east of Encino Park and northwest of Garden Ridge.

Milton Fields III, deputy superintendent of administration and operations, told trustees the tract is big enough to support a campus.

The new site, Fields said, would help alleviate rising student populations at JISD’s existing northern middle schools, namely Kitty Hawk Middle School, with an attendance zone stretching from Evans Road to FM 78.

Among JISD’s five existing middle schools, only Kirby Middle is well under the district’s planning capacity of 900 students.

Judson and Kitty Hawk middle schools each exceed the ideal maximum capacity of 1,125 students; Metzger Middle exceeds the ideal planning capacity.

District 1 trustee Suzanne Kenoyer, who represents the district’s northernmost area, said she’s heard from parents who want a new middle school closer to them.

“Also, the (parents) who have kids at Kitty Hawk want Kitty Hawk to be a smaller campus so that kids get more individual attention,” she added.

The same area also has the highest percentage of middle school-age students leaving JISD. Fields said many parents in the far north section of JISD see it as a daily challenge to send their children to Kitty Hawk Middle, which is miles away in Universal City.

“That’s why we see a lot of kids not wanting to come back down,” he added.

Meanwhile, growth continues up north. Nearly 1,500 houses are being built or are planned for construction in seven new residential developments mainly north of Evans Road near Wortham Oaks.

With growth in mind, JISD officials have considered putting a new bond up for a public vote, perhaps as soon as November. The district has until a state deadline of Aug. 16 to call a Nov. 2 special election.

By planning to design a school now, Fields said, JISD could have a shovel-ready construction project if the district floated a bond and received voter approval.

It takes about a year and a half to build a middle school, Fields said.

“If we do that now and if we to have a potential bond in November, we could do a reimbursement resolution and put that money back into the fund balance,” Fields said. “But if we wait to do a bond before we start this process, it’ll increase our waiting time to six, seven or eight months.”

District 4’s Jose Macias urged district staff to communicate with the residents most affected by a sixth middle school.

“To jump ahead of it, make sure you include everybody in that geographic area, which means homeowner associations and neighborhood associations,” he said. “We want to make sure there’s no adversaries to us building it.”

Macias agreed a new middle school is needed, but he urged his colleagues to consider equity in developing a new bond to ensure no parts of the district are left out.

“What more could we add to this potential proposal? It could be broader than this middle school; it could be all of our middle schools are impacted,” he added.

“We’re going to propose projects that’ll impact a lot of our campuses,” Superintendent Jeanette Ball responded.

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