Copperas Cove ISD trustees discuss future facility planning
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Independent School District board of trustees held a workshop meeting last Friday evening to discuss facility and infrastructure needs due to the population growth in areas of the district.
Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Support Services Rick Kirkpatrick and Superintendent. Joe Burns led a discussion about the growth, sharing that several schools had already exceeded the projected enrollment numbers for the year, although no schools were at capacity yet. Housing development on the north side of town, in Creekside Hills, and on the south side, near Martin Walker Elementary School, were the main reasons attributed to the growth.
The board members discussed the need for more facilities or larger facilities to accommodate the continued growth. Most of the district’s facilities are in the central part of town, while the growth is on the outer edges.
Friday’s discussion covered possible ideas on how to maximize the district’s available space before having to turn to building completely new campuses.
Board member Jeff Gorres asked about reverting back to having a campus for 5th grade only, similar to the model the district had more than 10 years ago, with C.R. Clements Intermediate School and Lovett Ledger Intermediate School, which each housed 5th and 6th graders, while elementary schools housed pre-K through 4th grade. With Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy as the district’s pre-K facility, the elementary campuses could become Kindergarten through 4th grade campuses. The junior highs could revert back to housing only 7th and 8th graders, while the intermediate schools housed 5th and 6th graders.
Burns said that currently, the district does have the capacity to go back to this intermediate school model, but there would still be pressure at the high school regarding capacity.
Scenarios for expanding campuses
for increased capacity
Burns walked the board members through how the various campuses could be expanded to accommodate increased capacity numbers.
With a K-4 elementary school, the maximum number of students could be up to 800. At the two intermediate schools, the maximum capacity could be 1,600 each. At the two junior high schools, the maximum capacity of students would be 1,000 per school.
According to Burns, there are three campuses with the ability to be transitioned into the intermediate campuses: Fairview-Jewell Elementary, Clements-Parsons Elementary and Williams-Ledger Elementary. Williams-Ledger would be the option on the north and west side of town. Fairview-Jewell would offer a south and west option while Clements-Parsons would offer a south and east option.
The district would eventually need to build a new early learning center on the north side of town, since Mae Stevens is located on the far east side of town on the southern portion of the railroad tracks. Burns said that the district has plenty of land on the north side of town, near House Creek as well as on Summers Road.
To fit with the new model, the four remaining elementary schools would need to accommodate anywhere from 100 to 300 more students.
At a school like Martin Walker Elementary, just the simple addition of a new cafeteria would free up classroom space in the old cafeteria space.
Burns said he felt Martin Walker and Hettie Halstead each needed a new cafeteria, as well as an additional gym, and that House Creek Elementary would need just an additional gym while Mae Stevens needed a new cafeteria before any other expansion could take place. Satellite pictures of each campus showed the space available for additional wings which would add even more space for classrooms.
Planning for high school expansion: no second high school in the plans at this time
At the high school, Burns said he would want to focus on the drainage system and then creating space for the CTE programs, like woodshop or others.
Burns also brought up the idea of updating the wood shop area at the high school by way of renovating the cafeteria.
“If we were to build a more modern, more utilitarian cafeteria system there, that whole cafeteria and woodshop area could all be renovated,” Burns said. “I mean, you’re probably talking about adding maybe 15 or 20 classrooms to a building, and if you put 20 kids to a classroom, that’s 300 kids that you have classrooms for. You have not busted an outside wall out. You’ve not done anything. You’re using equipment that’s there.”
Burns suggested the possibility of building a new cafeteria by the front parking lot in front of the old Gym, where Bulldawg U is, and allowing for a secure outdoor eating space.
“There’s a lot of things they didn’t even think about because schools are evolving,” Burns said about the previous architects of the high school. “(Schools) are not what they were in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.”
The district would also have to focus on making sure that any renovation to the high school would be strategic in how students get from one point to another, Burns said.
Burns said the high school would have to reach a capacity of 3,000 to 3,500 before the district would be able to think of adding another high school. He added that the district’s projection for 10 years out still doesn’t show the school reaching this number in capacity.
To build a new high school would start at $135 million, according to Burns. This price does not include a stadium or any extras.
Burns said that if the district went out for a bond issue for a new high school, it would add about 50 cents onto the tax rate for just one facility.
“That’s one thing that everybody in the community can get behind is a brand-new high school,” Burns said. “I can, but if it’s going to cost me every penny on my tax rate and there’s not going to be any money to do anything else, then you know what, I’m probably not there.”