SISD sees need for a new school: Committee making list of priorities for district

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The Sealy Independent School District is looking at the probability of building a second and possibly a third elementary school.

Superintendent Sheryl Moore gave the district’s board of trustees an update from the Long Range Facilities Committee at the board’s Dec. 16 meeting and presented a preliminary list of items the district will need to contend with, including the construction of a new elementary school.

The need for a new school stems from Selman Intermediate School – grades 4-5 – being near capacity.

“In the next two years the school is projected to grow by 99 students,” she said. “That’s five classes. We don’t have five classrooms.”

She said the committee – which is comprised of community members across the district – has been evaluating all the district’s facility needs and is currently assessing the financial viability and priority of the projects. A new school is near the top of the list.

“We need to build another K-5 elementary school … and we’re not that far off from looking at a third,” Moore said.

She said a new building would cost around $26-33 million and also require 15-20 acres of land.

“For absolute equity between both campuses (Selman Elementary and a new elementary) you’re looking at $33 million,” Moore said.

In addition to buying the land and building a new school, the district would also need to upgrade Selman Elementary to make the two facilities compatible. Selman currently houses kindergarten through third grade. Selman Elementary would become a k-5 school and the intermediate school would then be used to expand Sealy Junior High.

Moore said that Selman Elementary can house 850 students. Assuming the same for a new elementary, that gives a capacity for 1,700 students. There are currently 1,400 students in the elementary and intermediate schools, meaning a third elementary school would have to be considered within a few years of the second.

New schools aren’t the only need the district must address.

“We have a lot of delayed maintenance items,” Moore said, noting that includes about $3-4 million in roof repairs. The district also needs to improve security at the schools, including more cameras and lights.

Moore said the Long Range Facilities Committee will meet a few more times before it brings its final recommendations at a special board meeting on Feb. 3. All of the documents evaluated by the committee can be found on the district’s website, www.sealyisd.com, under the quick links tab.

Handgun policy

In other action by the board, the trustees approved the Texas Association of School Boards Policy Update 103, which updates a number of school district policies, among them one governing handguns in light of the open carry law going into affect Jan. 1.

By state law, all guns (with the exception of those on licensed peace officers) are prohibited in school facilities, including buildings, stadiums, ballparks, playgrounds, buses, etc. Licensed handguns are permitted on other school property, including parking lots and sidewalks. The new policy permits district employees with a handgun license to possess it on school property (not the aforementioned facilities) as long as it is kept out of sight, such as locked in their car.

Good news

Under the superintendent’s report, the board noted that all four of its schools and the districts met standard on standardized tests and none of the schools were placed on the Public Education Grant (PEG) list of under-performing schools.

Assistant Superintendent Nicole Poenitzsch and Sealy High School Principal Megan Oliver presented to the board a revised academic planning guide that streamlines the course selection process through the junior high and high schools. The move brings consistency in course selection for the different career tracks from sixth grade through 12th grade.

The district received and approved its annual audit. Steve Van Manen of Harrison, Waldrop and Uherek presented the audit that showed no items of major concern. He noted that the district’s reserve fund was lower than the year before, but that was due to the purchase of property. He saw that as an asset swap. He gave the district a clean opinion.

“In the last two years the financial condition of the district has improved,” he said.

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