School board mulls possible future projects

School board members are considering a host of potential projects, including an expansion of the elementary school’s play area.
School board members are considering a host of potential projects, including an expansion of the elementary school’s play area.

By Shanna Cummings

Culberson County-Allamoore ISD school board members are considering potential future projects and goals over the next few months.

Superintendent Ken Baugh explained during the Dec 14 board meeting that the district has a healthy Interest and Sinking (I&S) fund balance, bolstered by strong oil and gas growth in the county, as well as careful budgeting and conservative spending by the school district. The goals to set aside funds for payments on the 2016 and 2019 bonds, as well as maintenance and operations debts, have been met, and contingency planning for emergencies like COVID-19 has paid off. This puts CCAISD in the enviable position to tackle a few more projects and goals.

However, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has caused a significant reduction in tax revenue for the state, Baugh added. Legislators have already filed bills aimed at allowing the state to claim public schools’ fund balances in order to make up for the revenue shortfalls, he said. The district could prevent that access by designating the funds toward specific future projects. Designating the funds still allows board members to change use later, if necessary.

“It just tells them, hey, you can’t get to this,” Baugh told board members.

Baugh presented two options: one for reserving money to pay against the principles of two existing bonds, and a second option involving drawing a bond for building and funding projects.

Option one would cover:

  • 2022 callable for the 2016 bond: $5,715,000
  • 2023 callable on the 2019 bond: $1,560,000

Option two would include:

  • Building demolition: $1 million
  • Bus barn: $700,000
  • School house renovations: $2 million
  • Baseball field renovation: $2.3 million
  • Football field lights: $500,000
  • Vehicle/bus/travel bus: $500,000
  • Junior High activity area: $500,000
  • Elementary activity area: $500,000
  • Ion filtration system: $400,000
  • Band Hall/Junior high locker/Storage: $2.5 million
  • Fund daycare for five years: $1 million
  • Cost overage (15 percent): $1,785,000
  • Altogether, option two’s projects bond would total $13,685,000.

Board members voiced interest in the junior high and elementary activity areas. Baugh said the junior high area would extend from the back of the school and include shaded seating and basketball courts, while the elementary area would expand on the small playground at the front of the building. Board members also pondered funding the day care, which would improve future student performance. Trustee Eduardo Seyffert supported paying down the existing bond principles before taking on new projects.

Board members ultimately asked Baugh to create a third option that pays down bond principles and includes a smaller bond to fund a few key projects. He will present this option in a future board meeting.

“It’s a win no matter what we do,” Baugh said.