School board calls new bond

Commonly known as the “Red School”, constructed in 1927 with 6 rooms and an auditorium as Van Horn School. Later renamed Delaware School with renovations and additions in 1980s, today, sits unused and dilapidated. The new bond measure may bring the nearly century-old building up to code and preserve history for future generations. (VHA-Photo/DB)
Commonly known as the “Red School”, constructed in 1927 with 6 rooms and an auditorium as Van Horn School. Later renamed Delaware School with renovations and additions in 1980s, today, sits unused and dilapidated. The new bond measure may bring the nearly century-old building up to code and preserve history for future generations. (VHA-Photo/DB)

By Shanna Cummings

The CCAISD school board has called a third bond since 2016, hoping to complete its list of construction projects. This newest bond is for $23 million: a general construction bond and two separate propositions for the football field and school-owned housing projects. The total bond will appear as three separate propositions on the May election ballot.

Superintendent Ken Baugh laid out the bond specifics during the February 16 school board meeting. The board voted unanimously to call the bond, though some discussion emerged about the projects listed (see below).

This newest bond will not involve an increase in the Interest & Sinking (I&S) tax, Baugh emphasized. Tax revenue from the oil and natural gas industries in the county have allowed the district to reduce the I&S tax rate by 25 percent over two years, with another possible tax cut next year.

Baugh said the list included projects cut from previous bonds due to budget cuts, as well as current needs expressed by the board and members of the community, and would be prioritized once the overall budget solidifies after May elections.

Community input about projects for the general bond is welcome, Baugh added. Board members mentioned community interest in saving the Red School, for instance, and one project on the list involves bringing at least part of the building up to code, including plumbing and electrical updates as well as asbestos removal. Board members discussed whether updating the Red School gym might be more useful, as there is no clear use for the school building itself, while the gym could be used for tournaments. 

The list of projects also includes drilling a new water well and building a water storage tank, which would ease the pressure on the city’s aged water infrastructure. Legally, the district cannot give the well and tank to the City of Van Horn, which was an initial consideration, Baugh said.

CCAISD’s bond repayment strategy of paying on bond principles early and making large payments the first two years means the district’s previous bonds from 2016 ($30 million) and 2019 ($13 million) will be paid off by 2025, and this third bond would be paid by 2026, Baugh explained. This strategy has saved over $7 million in interest so far and shaved 15 and seven years, respectively, off the payment schedules for the 2016 and 2019 bonds. 

Bond general construction projects

  • Pre-K and First Grade playground
  • Fourth and Fifth Grade playground
  • Junior High outdoor area
  • Building addition for band hall, locker rooms, storage, hospitality and athletics offices
  • Bus barn, storage and maintenance area
  • Demolition of old school building next to athletics and maintenance
  • Water well and storage tank
  • Building addition/new building for Career and Technical Education program
  • Additional tennis courts with associated locker rooms and parking
  • Flat screen scoreboard for football field
  • Update baseball field with “Dark Sky” compliant lighting, turf field, metal fencing, locker rooms, warm up cages and parking
  • Renovations to the “Red School” to meet codes, remove asbestos
  • Outdoor play facility with covered basketball court, sand volleyball courts, splash pad and restrooms

Separate bond propositions

  • “Dark Sky” compliant field lights and flatscreen scoreboard for football stadium
  • Renovation/replacement of school-owned housing