Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
LITTLE CYPRESS —
A growing concern for student safety, campus security and repairing and replacing aging facilities is at the top of the LC-M school district’s wish list for the proposed bond election.
The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated Independent School District will hold a bond election on Saturday, May 11 at Little Cypress Intermediate School, for election precincts 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9, and at Mauriceville Middle School for election precincts 5, 16, 31 and 32. Early voting is being held starting Monday, April 29 through Tuesday, May 7, at the Orange Public Library, LC-M Education Center and Mauriceville Volunteer Fire Department.
The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted earlier this year to call for a $56 million bond election to help repair, and, in some cases, replace aging facilities throughout the district which were built between 30 to 60 years ago, depending on the campus.
A priority is improving safety at each facility and, if approved, the funds from the bond election will help provide for the construction of secure main entrances at all LC-M CISD campuses. These improvements will be made by connecting buildings together and eliminating exterior walkways between classes.
“Our facilities do not meet code or compliance,” said Dr. Pauline Hargrove, superintendent of LC-M CISD. “Our buildings are not secure. We have several campuses which have been determined to have over 20 entrance and exit points, and one has more than 40.
“This bond will allow us to provide secure main entrances and connect buildings, where possible, for better safety,” she added. “It will correct the existing safety concerns and replace older buildings.”
In 2007, the district identified approximately $100 million in repairs and replacements it wanted to make at that time and called for a $40 million bond election in May 2008. It failed by 56 votes.
LC-M CISD has borrowed $4.9 million to make repairs to vital systems such as HVAC and to make energy improvements, but much more funding is needed to handle the work it has estimated needs to be done to correct its current issues.
“The vast majority of new construction will be replacement for older buildings or wings which are being torn down,” said Greg Perry, assistant superintendent, in a statement. “There will be a few new classrooms, but we estimate those to be less than 10 overall. Some of the square footage is not yet defined, and all of the plans are preliminary.”
Each campus has its own set of proposed projects, according to initial plans from the bond proposal committee.
At LC-M High School, funds would be used to provide a secure front entrance by relocating the current entrance, which faces the parking lot and woods, to face State Highway 87. It would also lead to the demolition of the library in the center of the campus and enclose the same area through the construction of new classrooms and a new library.
Other items included call for the demolition, construction and equipping of a new, state of the art kitchen and cafeteria, as well as a new gymnasium. The cosmetology building and field house would also be connected to the main building.
“This school was not built for this many students originally,” Hargrove said. “And when you have buildings 30-to-60 years old, you have to look at cost analysis and see which is more feasible - repairs or building a new school.”
Plans for Little Cypress Junior High include a secure front entrance as well by relocating the current entrance to face Meeks Drive.
New construction is also planned for the campus including new classrooms, offices, library and more, while connecting the two existing gymnasiums and the cafeteria to the new building.
The cafeteria and kitchen will be upgraded, and bleachers in the gymnasium will be replaced. Remaining buildings will be demolished and parking added.
Little Cypress Elementary and Little Cypress Intermediate will see big changes as the campuses will be connected as exterior awning is extended. Each campus will have improved traffic flow for students being dropped off or picked up by parents and for school bus loading and unloading.
Mauriceville Middle School and Mauriceville Elementary would also become connected campuses through the extension of exterior awning. Each campus would receive new, secure front entrances as well.
The elementary have new classrooms constructed, while the current 200 building classroom wing would be demolished. Existing buildings would be connected and traffic flow improved for both campuses.
A new gymnasium, band hall and science lab would be constructed at the middle school campus, along with renovations to the offices and nurse’s office and new equipment. Existing buildings would be connected and parking added.
A new, state-of-the-art cafeteria and kitchen would be constructed to be utilized by both campuses.
“These two campuses are being merged and will become totally connected since they are in such close proximity,” Hargrove said. “They will share a new, state-of-the-art kitchen as well. Currently, two grades from Mauriceville Elementary are already going to the middle school for lunch because the elementary campus kitchen cannot accommodate that many students. Building a new cafeteria for both campuses to share will be cheaper in the long run.”
If approved, taxes will increase for patrons of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated Independent School District. The average market value of a residence within the district is currently $109,842.
According to information provided by the district, if the bond election is approved by voters, taxes on a house valued at $100,000 would increase by $266 per year.
However, this rate increase would not apply to district patrons who are ages 65 and older or disabled.
“Maintaining your school is just like your home,” Hargrove explained. “It takes time and money.”
Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD currently enrolls approximately 3,500 students at its six campuses and improving the security of each campus, whether the bond election is approved by voters or not, will most likely become a reality.
“I can’t speak for the school board, but we will probably have to look at doing something for security, regardless,” Hargrove said. “Security is only going to get worse and we have to make our campuses safe.”
The school district’s Board of Trustees and administration encourage taxpayers and voters to take a tour of its facilities prior to the bond election. Superintendent Hargrove and Assistant Superintendent Perry are available for questions by calling 409-883-2232.
A powerpoint presentation on the proposed bond election may be viewed online at www.lcmcisd.org.