The election called by Central High Public Schools is addressing crucial educational needs, including those identified by students themselves.
Residents of the school district that includes Stephens and Comanche counties will vote Tuesday on a $6.16 million bond issue that will be spent to build and equip new facilities for new and expanded programs, while also renovating existing space.
Superintendent Kevin L. Dyes said what the 10-year bond issue will do is address what students say they want: classes keyed toward the agriculture- and STEM-related programs important to the rural community. Specifically, the school system will be able to create the Career & Technology Education (CATE) Center, which will feature new agriculture science classroom, meat lab with a walk-in cooler, agriculture mechanics shop, homemaking classroom and culinary arts kitchen, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classroom. Creation of those areas is expected to free up two classrooms at the high school, middle school and elementary school, to address student growth, Dyes said.
Additional projects include renovating the current agriculture building into a locker room and weight room, and renovating the football concession stand in the agriculture building.
Dyes said the projects are important to student education.
“Our ag shop is old and really doesn’t meet our needs,” he said of what now is a combination ag facility and bus barn.
The project proposals came from a process school officials started two years ago, creating a committee that analyzed Central High’s facilities to come up with a list of projects. The first bond proposal — a new elementary school — failed, with voters telling district officials afterward that bond proposal was too big and would take too long to retire. District officials then went to their second idea for this election: a career and technology center for new class space and learning opportunities in areas important to a rural community.
“A majority of our property is centered around hay and cattle and farming,” he said, adding while some of the proposed ideas already are offered, the facilities that learning occurs in are substandard.
For example, the family and consumer sciences class takes place in a teacher work room because it won’t fit anywhere else. By contrast, meat sciences doesn’t exist at all, Dyes said of a program that could provide education that could lead to jobs after high school. Careers also is the idea behind the consumer science and culinary arts kitchen, Dyes said, explaining there are students who have gone through the consumer science program and want to continue culinary pursuits at a higher level.
“It’s not just basic consumer sciences,” he said, of an area students have said they want.
The STEM classroom will allow Central High to expand what it has now.
Dyes said the proposed classrooms are all things Central High students want and need, and can’t get anywhere locally.
“It is sellable skills,” he said of the district’s goal of providing education in areas that students can take into adulthood.
Dyes said if voters approve the bond issue Tuesday, conservative estimates indicate construction could be under way by fall. That means the new classrooms could be ready for occupancy by fall 2025.