Community meeting

Kilgore ISD presents a high school and talks about a proposed link during a community meeting | News

The current Kilgore High School is a hodgepodge building that has been refurbished and extended several times since its construction in 1932.

Along with aging infrastructure, as parts of the school are 90 years old, Superintendent Andy Baker of Kilgore ISD says one of the biggest challenges is simply inadequate learning space.

“This building right next to us is your home primary school,” he said. “It was built in 1932 to house 1932 itty-bitties, and here we are in 2021 educating high schoolers in the same class size. So we’re trying to educate through modern spec in a building that was built to basic spec 90 years ago. It’s just a challenge.

Residents of Kilgore got a first-hand glimpse of the good, the bad and the ugly on Saturday as Baker led a tour of Kilgore High School and discussed the proposed $113million bond that will be on the ballot in November.

This bond will include two separate proposals: Proposal A, which totals $109 million and includes money for the construction of a new high school and renovations at Chandler Elementary, and Proposal B, which totals $4 million and covers ADA upgrades to RE St. John Stadium. .

Baker’s presentation on Saturday was meant to “help people understand why we’re asking this now, where we are today and it will help you make decisions for the future,” he said.

Anyone living in Kilgore ISD and registered to vote will be able to vote in the bond election. Baker said those with questions about the bond can email him at [email protected], and he will answer them.

If the requirement doesn’t pass, Baker said the district would review why voters rescinded the measure and what changes should be made.

“All bond elections at this stage are subject to the community,” he said. “The community at this point can vote yes, they can vote no.”

Baker identified several major challenges with the current high school building, including physical space; security issues; aging infrastructure; and a humidity problem.

The moisture problem in particular was highlighted on Saturday, as Baker showed problems with crumbling plaster in the original 1932 buildings because water seeped from the exterior wall. The district patches as these issues appear, Baker said, but that doesn’t fix the root of the problem.

The building’s many additions also mean security is a mess, Baker said. They have 87 exterior doors to the secondary school and 1,200 children come in and out during the day to reach the classes and extracurricular activities that are outside the main building.

“So trying to keep all those doors secure isn’t just a challenge, guys, sometimes it’s impossible,” Baker said.

The proposed bond estimates that a new high school will cost approximately $93 million, which is based on the new high school that Caddo Mills ISD is currently building in the DFW area. Baker said Caddo Mills had a similar size and demographic profile to Kilgore – although he noted construction costs could be higher or lower when Kilgore ISD actually put the shovel down, if the requirement was accepted.

The footprint of the new high school building will be on the same site where the soccer fields, tennis courts and parking lot are currently located. Baker said they would build the university wings first, then tear down the parts of the old building they felt were not needed.

Preliminary concepts for any new high school building would take into account the arches and red roofs of the current building. Baker said they may have to make the new building three stories to fit the site.

“Now, that said, we’re trying to keep a lot of what would bring that price down,” Baker said, noting that the district hoped to keep the competition gymnasium, cafeteria, farm building, library, science building ( although it may not remain the science building), the CRC building and the football facilities.

The District Facilities Committee, which reviewed the needs of the district to determine what a potential bond should cover, identified Chandler Elementary’s critical needs as HVAC system replacement, roof replacement, window replacement and a new gymnasium.

Baker said the school’s educational space has been renovated over the years and is still educationally appropriate in the classroom and educational space outside of the gymnasium.

The current gymnasium, he says, is simply not big enough.

“Every one of these kids walks through this gym in PE, bus detention places, in the morning when they arrive. It’s just not big enough,” Baker said. “We’re running more kids in this gym than this gym was ever designed for. There are no restrooms in this gymnasium and there are no seats in this gymnasium other than the floor itself.

The stadium is jointly owned by Kilgore ISD and Kilgore College, and Baker addressed whether the improvement costs proposed by the ADA in the bond election would be shared during Saturday’s discussion. The short answer is no.

Baker gave an example of stadium lights, which were upgraded about four years ago, and said those same conversations are happening now. In this example, Kilgore ISD wanted upgraded LED lights. Kilgore College did not.

“Stop and think about the reason: it’s not because they want to be rude or that we want to be rude,” Baker said. “We play our home college games on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. in pitch black. We need good LED lights. When do they play their games? Saturday afternoon. They don’t need lights. So they don’t need it, so the deal that came out after that discussion was ‘We’ll put X amount and whatever we have, Kilgore ISD paid the difference.’

Baker said that when discussing the need for restrooms, bleachers and other improvements, the college had no desire to move forward.

“So we are on our own. So as long as our kids continue to use the stadium, again talking to your school board and I think we’re all in agreement they’re our kids too so we’re putting our money into what our kids are going play,” Baker said. “That’s not a good answer because, yes, they can use it, but I can’t force them to do what they don’t want to do. So either we sit down like we have been with the stadium and keep going until whatever end, or we take action to try and fix it for our kids.