Royal ISD launches facility advisory committee to help prepare bond package

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 8/11/22

The Royal Independent School District has launched a facilities advisory committee to help design a bond package for voter consideration in the May 2023 election.

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Royal ISD launches facility advisory committee to help prepare bond package

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The Royal Independent School District has launched a facilities advisory committee to help design a bond package for voter consideration in the May 2023 election.

The district hosted its first committee meeting Aug. 4 in the Royal ISD Early Childhood Center, 2300 Durkin Road in Brookshire.

The district is dealing with a growing student population as the Brookshire and Pattison areas see rapid residential development. Superintendent Rick Kershner said that two subdivisions, Freeman Ranch and Sunterra, are being expanded or under construction. Kershner said the Sunterra development will total about 7,000 homes, with 2,000 of them being in Royal ISD. The others, he said, would be in Katy ISD. Other developments, including the new LGI community, Blue Stern, La Sagarra, New Long Lake, New Pulte, Sofi Farms, and Jasek Farms, are in the works now. He shared a map that showed the growing development on the western side of the district.

“We can drive through all of these, so you know what’s happening,” Kershner said.

Kershner said the district has an enrollment of 2,680 students. Going forward, he said, the district’s demographer predicted enrollment growth of about 200 students per year in the next two to three years. The demographer predicted enrollment growth of about 600-800 students per year in the next four to six years.

Despite the growth, district voters have rejected four of the last six bond package proposals since 2000. The most recent was in November 2021, when voters rejected a $99.5 million package. Kershner said that package included an additional Pre-K through 5th grade elementary school, a replacement junior high school, and renovations for the STEM Academy, existing elementary school, early childhood center, existing junior high school, and transportation center. Had voters approved the package, the existing junior high school would have been repurposed, Kershner said.

Committee members were asked to discuss reasons why they felt the last three bond packages failed. Three reasons cited were a lack of information, poor marketing and promotion of the bond package, and low voter turnout.

The last voter-approved bond package came in 2006. The package, for approximately $63 million, went towards the construction of the current Royal High School, which opened in 2009. It also included the Royal Early Childhood Center and other renovations and improvements.

Committee members will hold a series of meetings over the next few months to review the district’s needs and decide what to include in a potential bond package. Next month, committee members will tour district facilities.

Kershner said the district will provide ideas and suggestions for what might go into a bond package, but committee members will also provide input. Security will be among those issues.

Kershner said if he could pick just one item to be addressed, it would be to replace the junior high school. It is the district’s oldest school, built in 1967.

“That facility has the greatest need as far as an upgrade for the facility,” Kershner said. “We did some upgrades with restrooms and HVAC. IT’s an older facility and we’re close to capacity there already. It has some great needs for an upgrade. That’s a tough question, because we’re ultimately going to need a new elementary school as well.”

Michael Glover, Royal ISD school board president, encouraged committee members.

“No matter where these students are from, they can succeed in this global society and would want to use these facilities to help them do that,” Glover said. “We can do it through commitment, through accountability, through trust. We can get this thing done and we can make sure that we’re presenting the best instructional environment for our kids to thrive in.”

RISD, Royal ISD, bond

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