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WILLIS ISD TRUSTEES CALL FOR $218.1M BOND REFERENDUM IN A MAY VOTE


WILLIS, Texas (Jan. 11, 2024)
- At the regular school board meeting on Jan. 10, Willis ISD trustees unanimously called for a bond package to be presented on the May 4, 2024 ballot. The bond consists of four propositions totaling $218,100,000 and carries a potential maximum 7.9 cent tax rate increase. The projects in the bond were identified by a long-range facility planning committee comprised of community members, parents, business owners, and employees who have met bimonthly since August 2023.

Proposition A includes a Willis High School 9th grade expansion with parking lot upgrades, a new transportation center and funds for general infrastructure for a total of $102,700,000. Willis High School currently has 2,600 students enrolled. The school is expected to exceed capacity in 2027-28. The expansion would accommodate 1,200 students and would alleviate overcrowding at the high school. This would also delay the need for a second high school for about ten years, allowing time to build a solid tax base capable of supporting a new campus.

Proposition B is for a new athletic complex & stadium with a community room totaling $68,800,000. The district purchased 62 acres in 2023 for a future stadium at the corner of FM 830 and Hwy 75, across from Willis High School. The stadium would be built to accommodate a growing 6A school district, with 8,500 seats, concessions, large restroom facilities, and a fieldhouse. The community room will provide a place to hold meetings, end-of-year banquets, and other special events. The room will be available to the public for rent.

            Proposition C would build an aquatic center adjacent to the proposed stadium for $19,600,000. The facility would include a 50-meter USA-sanctioned swimming-sized pool with an additional dive well. The pool will include two moveable bulkheads to accommodate UIL events. The Dive well will include one 3-meter springboard, two 1-meter springboards, one 3-meter platform and potentially a 5-meter platform. The facility would also include seating for 800 people, a girls’ and boys’ locker room, classrooms, a weight room, and a storage room. For many years, Willis ISD swimmers have been required to drive to Conroe to use the Conroe ISD natatorium. Although the district would like to bus the students, we don’t always have open buses or drivers. This means students are driving at 5 am on a major roadway, about 40 miles roundtrip. The aquatic center will also be available to community members for exercise classes and swim lessons.

         Proposition D includes a student activity center housed at Willis High School, totaling $27,000,000. This student activity center would include a media room, classrooms, equipment storage, a set of girls' and boys' locker rooms, additional offices, a weight room, a multipurpose indoor field, baseball and softball batting cage nets, and dedicated Air Force JROTC and wrestling spaces. Nets will be available for golf as well as field access for soccer. The student activity center will be used by 900+ students in various activities. An indoor facility would also alleviate concerns about athletes practicing in harsh outdoor temperatures or elements. UIL rules dictate a limit on the amount of time athletes can be exposed to the harsh weather. 

Representatives of the planning committee presented the recommendation to the board as an informational item, and the Board voted unanimously to place the bond referendum on the May ballot. Presenting the information were parents Matt Adams and Abbie Holland, as well as former board member and parent Christen Arnold.

Just prior to the bond presentation, the Board listened to a presentation regarding district growth prepared by Population and Survey Analysts, PASA, out of College Station. The last time the district heard from PASA was in early 2021. The updated projections show that Willis ISD is entering a moderate to fast growth rate and is predicted to add 10,000 students by 2033.

 

Early voting runs from April 22 through April 30. Election day is May 4, 2024.