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Longview ISD board approves $10M in building projects

By Christina Lane
Nov. 14, 2011 at 11 p.m.

Longview ISD's school board on Monday night approved millions of dollars in building renovations that were not included in a 2008 $267 million bond election.

Trustees in a 6-1 vote approved what is being called the third phase in the district's bond renovation project. Board member John Harrison cast the only dissenting vote. When the 2008 bond election was approved, trustees and the administration told voters that any unused money would go toward paying the bond debt off sooner - not more projects.

"I wrestled with the issue on the basis of spending almost $10 million on projects that were not originally in the scope of the 2008 bond election," board President Sam Satterwhite said.

Satterwhite requested that administration set aside any further money left over from the $267 million bonds to pay the debt off sooner. He also said any district real estate sales should be used to pay on the debt rather than going into the district's general fund.

The projects approved Monday night are renovations at the former G.K. Foster, J.L. Everhart and Foster campuses.

G.K. Foster will be renovated to house the district's Playing for Keeps program, Head Start and special education. Playing for Keeps is a daycare that is used by district students and staff. The program was established with the intent of providing students who have had children with a place for childcare while they continue their education. Assistant Superintendent Lynn Marshall said the district spends $2,500 a month - $30,000 a year - leasing a building for the daycare and the program has outgrown its facility.

Renovations at the old G.K. Foster include electrical upgrades, upgrading doors and making the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The renovations are set to be complete by the start of the 2012 school year.

The former J.L. Everhart campus will be turned into a central district warehouse, Marshall said. The district currently uses the old Valley View campus as a warehouse as well as having items stored in various other locations, such as T.G. Field Auditorium, he said. At 30,000 square feet, J.L. Everhart will provide the district with all of the space it needs in one central location, he said.

Renovations will include accessibility, a new roof, removing the cafeteria and closing in existing windows. It is scheduled to begin the same time as the G.K. Foster renovations.

The former Foster Middle School will be transformed into a new home for the Dade Center, the Letting Education Achieve Dreams (LEAD) Academy, and Seesaw programs. LEAD Academy will occupy the portion of Foster that is two stories while Seesaw, an after-school program, will occupy the gym. The City of Longview also will continue to use the gym recreationally.

Renovations include electrical upgrades, a new energy management system, replacing some windows, flooring and ceiling finishes, turning the library into a cafeteria, and demolishing the annex building to make a new parking lot to support the facilities. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by January 2013.



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