ENNIS – Several hundred residents met with Ennis ISD administrators and school board members Tuesday evening to hear plans for meeting the district’s needs.

“We’re here tonight to accomplish two things: discuss placement of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students and present the proposed bond program,” school superintendent Dr. Eddie Dunn said. “The reality is we are in essence busting at the brim from the sixth grade down.”

Providing the bond program passes, Dunn outlined the district’s plan to ease crowded conditions. For the 2008-2009 school year, the fourth, fifth and sixth grades will remain at their current campuses. The only exception will be the students in the gifted and talented program.  Those entering the fourth grade will go to Bowie.

To accommodate crowded conditions, some portables may be added to the elementary and sixth-grade campuses.

“Each school’s layout will be studied and portables will be placed in the most advantageous place,” Dunn said.

Board president Pete Bibby took the podium to discuss the proposed bond, giving a multi-media presentation illustrating how the district developed the needs and a 10-year plan.

The board had appointed a 45-member, resident-based facility-need committee, which projected needs to meet the city’s growth.

The needs included replacing the intermediate school that is vacant. The school was determined to be unsafe for use, with engineers citing structural and foundation problems.

“The building is in the process of being demolished as we speak,” Bibby said, noting the proposed bond will carry the district through 2017 at an increase of 8 cents per $100 of valuation.

The bond package is estimated at $48, 985,000 in value.

Presently the taxable rate is $1.40 per $100 of valuation. Broken down $$1.03 goes to maintenance and operations. The remaining 37 cents goes to interest. The new projected tax rate will be around $1.48 per $100.

Included in the package is the construction of a new intermediate school for grades four through six, with an 800-student capacity. The site would be on the Ennis Junior High School site west of Clay Street.

A new early childhood center is also proposed to hold an initial capacity of 400 students, with an expansion of up to 600. This would be the district’s second early childhood center and would be built on the former Carver school property on Martin Luther King Drive.

The current sixth-grade center would be converted into a second intermediate school for grades four through six through the addition of a wing. Only two of three wings were built when the building was originally constructed. The addition would increase the capacity to 800 students.

Travis Elementary would be expanded to accommodate an additional 150 students. Travis is the smallest school in the district, yet is projected to experience a sizeable growth in the next decade.

The last element of the package includes technology upgrades to the sixth-grade campus to match the new intermediate campus. Travis Elementary is also scheduled for a technology center upgrade.

“We cannot count on the state or federal government funds to take care of our needs. Property taxes are the only revenues we have available for our schools,” Bibby told the audience.

Early voting begins Monday, April 28, at the Sixth Grade Center. Other voting locations include the Early Childhood Center on Tuesday, April 29; Austin Elementary on Friday, April 29; the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ennis on Saturday, May 3; Ennis High School and Houston, Travis and Bowie elementaries on Monday May 5; and San Jacinto Auditorium on Tuesday, May 6. Voting times are from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Election day voting will be at the Ennis administration building from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 10.