PREMONT, Texas — Earlier this month, the Premont community voted in favor of a $4.1 million bond proposal that the school district will use to renovate its high school.
“It’s in dire straits, enrollment is growing, it’s a good investment,” said Premont ISD superintendent Steve VanMatre. “It’s a 50-year-old facility that hasn’t had a lot of love and attention, and we’re going to give it that.”
The building, constructed in 1971, had some work done through the district’s most recent bond proposal in 2017, which was focused on building the district’s new elementary school and football stadium. But the most recent bond proposal will focus solely on renovation of the high school.
According to VanMatre, the highest priority for the district is security. With the money from the bond, the district will add a perimeter fence to the building, as well as a vestibule to the front of the building.
Both changes will provide a more secure campus for the high school. Some areas of the school can be accessed by a back parking lot, which the fence will secure, and the added vestibule at the front of the building will allow for school officials to more easily control who can and cannot enter the building.
“Right now I’m very uncomfortable with how open our high school campus is," VanMatre said. "This provides an additional level of protection."
Additionally, the district will renovate parts of the interior of the high school. VanMatre said the focus will include classrooms, bathrooms, and the school’s band hall.
“Our classrooms need a lot of help, our restrooms are substandard, and we have a band program that’s a really vibrant program, they need a new band hall,” he said.
Nina Everett, an English teacher at the high school, is excited about the improvements coming to the school.
“Having the building to reflect where we’re at now, as far as student performance, student engagement, I think that would be great for our students,” she said.
VanMatre echoed Everett’s thoughts, noting how important it is to improve the school, since the district has seen a large increase in student population over the last few years.
“There’s a direct correlation between student performance and the condition of the school facility. Right now, we think we can do better academically with better facilities," he said. "There’s no doubt in my mind the learning environment that our students are in today is not what it should be, but we’re going to address that as quick as we can."
In July, Premont ISD will start accepting bids for architect and construction companies. VanMatre said construction should start in the fall, and he does not expect the project to take more than a year.
“We’re anxious to get started on it, we’re blessed to have the community support, and we’re thankful for that,” he said.
In addition to the bond project, Premont ISD will also work on two projects that will be funded by the district’s Fund Balance, or district savings account, which has grown from $1 million to more than $4 million recently.
The two projects, expected to be started in early summer, and completed before the start of the 2021-22 school year, are the demolition of the old elementary school on Interstate 281, and adding bathrooms and a concession stand to the football field.
“We need to clean up our mess, and we’ve got a mess on Interstate 281,” VanMatre said. “Certainly doing that demo out on 281, and finishing our stadium, is a really good use of Fund Balance revenues.”
As Premont ISD continues to grow and improve, VanMatre is excited to continue the process, and allow for more growth through these projects.
“What’s happening in Premont is very satisfying. We’ve got improved academics, we’ve got a higher quality of staff that we can recruit and retain, our enrollment is going through the roof," VanMatre said. "When the enrollment increases, money follows it, when you have more money, you’re able to improve things, build things, fix things. It’s a nice cycle that Premont is going through."