Worthy talks to attendee

Royse City ISD Superintendent Kevin Worthy (right) speaks to an attendee about the bond steering committee's plans at a special board of trustees meeting on Monday.

Hojun Choi | Herald-Banner

On Monday night, the Royse City Independent School District Board of Trustees approved plans for the 2018 school bond package which, if passed next week, would pave the way for a new middle school in Fate. 

In addition to the new middle school, the district’s 2018 bond steering committee recommended $1.1 million be used to build a new fine arts addition to the Royse City High School campus. Trustees also approved two plans to renovate the district’s older facilities. The price tag for capital improvements to middle schools was $5.2 million, while $6.1 million was set aside for the other schools in the district. 

Nereida Bond and Brad Sherman presented the plan on behalf of a 31-member steering committee comprised of government officials, educators, parents and business owners. Bond, a former teacher, told trustees that the committee had little to no members who voiced dissent to proposed improvement and construction projects. 

According to reports published by the steering committee, the decision to build a new school in Fate was largely based on data projections showing residential and commercial growth in the district. 

The new school will be located across the street from Fate City Hall.

“I think that the main reason we chose Fate is because it’s one of our fastest growing areas,” Superintendent Kevin Worthy said. “Also, having the opportunity to have two middle schools, one on the eastern side and one on the western side, really balances our district out, especially from a transportation standpoint.” 

Costs behind the proposed items are currently estimated to be about $60 million, most of which will be used towards to the new middle school. The committee also told the board that the projects would not result in a tax rate increase. 

“The good thing about that is, as a community member that is listening, you know that the district is not taking on debt that we can’t pay for,” Sherman said. 

For the purposes of gathering the opinions of members of the community who did not serve on the steering committee, the district collected and reviewed more than 650 survey responses from around the district. 

Sherman, who has taught in RCISD as a middle school teacher for 16 years, said the steps the committee took to reach out to parents, educators and business leaders gave him confidence in the presentation that he and Bond gave at Monday’s meeting. 

“Through our discussions, as they grew, we knew that this is exactly what everybody in the community wanted for our students and our district,” Sherman said. 

A district-wide master facility plan served as the guiding framework of the steering committee. One of the goals of the plan was to find ways to deal with a potential sharp rise in bond debt during the 2020-21 academic year. 

“I think the steering committee felt good to know that they had some parameters to work within, and I think they did a really good job doing it,” Worthy said.

One part of the plan recommends restructuring the current grade configuration system, which would rid the district of its intermediate schools, that currently serve fifth- and sixth-grade students. 

Under the new system, fifth-grade students would attend elementary school, while sixth-grade  students would begin middle school, as is the case for more than 70 percent of Texas school districts. 

If Royse City continues its current rate of growth, Worthy said keeping the old grade configuration would have resulted in the district having to take on more debt in the long run. 

“By eliminating that extra transition, now you’re only building to accommodate the current growth you have,” Worthy said. 

Worthy said that the intermediate schools will be repurposed as elementary schools to serve their respective areas. Though instructors at the two schools are aware of potential changes, the board of trustees have not yet had a chance to clearly communicate the time line of when these changes would take place. 

“We do have meetings scheduled with all our staff members to talk about what that would look like,” Worthy said. 

At their next regular meeting on Feb. 12, the board of trustees will hold a referendum on the approved project items, and expects to schedule the 2018 bond elections for May 5. 

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