Our facilities planning committee made up of community members, business leaders, Salado ISD staff and parents, has been meeting since September to review current and future facility and equipment needs of Salado ISD. The committee has identified facility needs in the areas of student safety, classroom capacity, athletics, fine arts, agriculture science/FFA, and renovation of aging facilities.
The total cost to address all of these needs would be over $100 million while our current bond taxing capacity is only $48 million. Thus, while all of these needs will be incorporated into the committee’s long range plan, not all of them will be able to be addressed at this time.
The top priority identified by the committee is student safety, classroom capacity, and athletic facilities. A few of the challenges regarding student safety involve the traffic congestion on Thomas Arnold Road, the use of portable classrooms, and elementary school students having to go in and out of four buildings every day to get between their cafeteria, gym, library, and classrooms.
The second priority identified by the committee is classroom capacity. Our enrollment has increased from 1,348 students to 1,854 students in the past five years. This represents a 38% increase, which is the greatest percentage increase of all 81 school districts in the Waco region. In an attempt to slow this growth, this past January we discontinued accepting new out-of-district transfer students unless they are children of employees, siblings of current transfer students, or children of active duty military or disabled veterans. While our transfer student enrollment is lower this school year, our total enrollment still increased by 100 students because of the number of new students that live in our district. Our enrollment is projected to increase by another 939 students over the next ten years, to a total enrollment of 2,793 students by the 2027-2028 school year. This projected increase is based only on resident students as our transfer student enrollment will continue to decrease every year.
The third priority identified by the committee is athletic facilities. Our current athletic facilities were built around 1980 when we were a 1A district with about 400 students (as compared to our current 4A classification and enrollment of 1,854 students).
One of the options being considered by the committee that would improve student safety and increase classroom capacity is the construction of a new middle school on Williams Road. The school district currently has a contract to purchase 52 acres of land on Williams Road, just south of the high school property. Building a new middle school there would alleviate the challenges we are currently experiencing at the three schools on Thomas Arnold Road with overcrowding, traffic circulation, and parking. Moving those three grade levels (6th, 7th, and 8th) to a new middle school would reduce the number of students on Thomas Arnold Road by 438 students. Our pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and 1st grade students would attend the elementary school, our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students would attend the intermediate school, and our 5th grade students would attend the junior high school. This would also eliminate the need for the portable classrooms at the elementary school and junior high school. Another option being considered by the committee would be to construct additions and renovations to the existing high school to house grades 7-12. The two options the committee is considering for our athletic facilities are the construction of new athletic facilities at the high school campus or additions and renovations to the existing athletic facilities (i.e., additional seating, restrooms, concessions, etc.).
The committee will present a recommendation to the Board of Trustees at the end of January as to how to proceed with a long-range plan and the possible need for a bond election as a funding source. The committee would like your input regarding the long-range plan. The district has partnered with an independent survey company to help gather the community’s opinion and gauge what voters think about potential issues and options being considered. The survey is completely anonymous and only a summary of the results will be provided to the district and committee.
You can access the survey by going to the committee website at www.sisdfacilitiescommittee.org and clicking on the “Take the Salado ISD Committee Survey” box in the middle of the page. Your opinion matters! Please take a few minutes to complete this brief, but very important survey. The survey will be available until Friday, December 22.