Ennis ISD held groundbreaking ceremonies last week on a project that will see the completion of a new building for the junior high and the 11th and 12th grades.

The project, which is being funded by a bond approved by the voters of Ennis in a November 2005 election, also includes renovations to the existing high school.

The existing building will be used to house the ninth and 10th grades as soon as the new building is completed. The plan has students using the new facilities in August 2008.

EISD communications director Glenn Hyde said that getting to this point is the result of a very lengthy and detailed process.

“First we had to determine the need for additional space and new facilities so we appointed a review committee made up of community leaders, teachers and principals,” Hyde said. “The review board went into the schools to interview teachers and students and look at the facility to see if upgrades were feasible or if a new building would be the best option. After that had been done, the committee chair brought the group’s findings before the school board and the board proceeded from there.”

The board accepted the recommendations of the committee and started the process of contracting builders and architects for quotes regarding the cost to construct a new building or renovate the existing facilities.

The final figures were then taken to the public, which approved an $89.9 million bond.

“The construction does not begin right away just because the bond was passed,” Hyde said. “There is a lot involved before a ground breaking ceremony takes place, including land acquisition and designing plans, all of which are reviewed by the school board before approval.

“However, the school board only meets once a month, so it can take some time to go through all of the review processes,” Hyde said.

The board announced during its regular meeting last week that due to the rising cost of materials and inflation that it had opted to build all phases of the project now, as opposed to the original plan of constructing the building in phases. By doing so, board members said they were able to enter into an agreement with SHW Architects and Charter Builders to ensure that the “guaranteed maximum price” for the cost of building the school will fall under budget and the project will be completed on schedule.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Eddie Dunn thanked the taxpayers for allowing the construction of the project.

“Education is a team effort and I am very proud of the taxpayers for committing to give the best to our children,” he said. “They are our future and we have asked them to give their best, so by standing here today we are showing them that we are prepared to give our best. We are creating a living, breathing space where young people can prosper and we are very proud of that.”

Dunn’s sentiments were shared by Mayor Russell Thomas, who said, “It’s a great day in Ennis anytime we can celebrate initiation of a school house.”

EISD board president Pete Bibby thanked everyone for the hard work involved, adding that the process had been a journey for many but that the end result was something everyone could be excited about and proud of.

EISD has an enrollment of about 5,633 students. Projects show the district will grow to about 6,066 students starting the school year in 2008.