In a unanimous decision by the Ennis ISD board of trustees at the regular called meeting held last week, a conclusion was reached concerning the viability of the Intermediate campus. The building has officially been abandoned by the district, which means that no further educational instruction will take place at the facility.
"The trustees felt like it would not be in the best interest of the community and are moving forward to look into other options at this time," said Henry Martinez, EISD communications director.
One of several options presented to the board last month saw the school being upgraded and used once again at a cost of $12 million and with no guarantee as to how long the structure would be able to be used.
"The district does not have the money to make the improvements needed and I just didn't think it would be fair to go to the taxpayers with a bond to ask for more money to invest in the Intermediate campus especially with no guarantee of how long the improvements would last. It would be throwing good money after bad and from the feedback I have received from the community, I feel like they want to start over with a new school and a new site," said Connie Durbin, board of trustees member.
The campus, which has been the subject of litigation in the past has been maintained every year with funds from a settlement to the district but only addresses the immediate issues presented at the time. The funds from the settlement have been used and even with annual maintenance, the district has not been able to bring the school to an environment safe for students.
"I think that the board of trustees at the time of the litigation that voted to use the funds for upkeep made the best decision with the options they were faced with. Unfortunately, those options have changed and we have had to take more drastic measures," Durbin said.
Another option that was given to the board last month was construction of a new school at a cost of $17 million. The board has not indicated that this will be the next step but has the option of calling for and conducting a bond election.
"The board of trustees has the option to call a bond election when they feel it is needed but we are not at that point yet. What we will be doing is appointing a facility needs committee to look into the issue and come up with the best options," Martinez said.
The district plans to appoint members throughout the city so a broad spectrum of representation is achieved. The trustees will consider all options brought back to them from the facility needs committee.
"I think the citizens committee will come to the same conclusions the trustees have and let us know the direction the community wants us to go in," Durbin said.
The Intermediate issue will not be the only thing the facility needs committee is asked to evaluate.
"We are trying to be proactive and will be asking the committee to look into the issues we will be facing with crowding at our elementary schools as well,” he said.
The board and administration will present recommendations for the facility needs committee at upcoming meetings where final decisions will be made regarding the appointments to the committee. The district is asking that anyone wishing to recommend a candidate for the committee contact the EISD administration office at (972) 875-9027.