PPISD board approves fourth bond land purchase
By Abigail Allen
Pilot Point ISD has a contract on its fourth and possibly final property for new school sites.
A 30-acre tract on Lights Ranch Road near FM 1385 purchased at $65 an acre is set to be the site of a future middle school.
“You’re not buying land to buy land,” Southard said. “You’re buying spots. Bryson Ranch is right across the street from it. … And then you just go down the road a little bit—you’ve got Mobberly [Farms] and Creekview [Meadows].”
The Pilot Point ISD Board of Trustees voted Monday to approve the Lights Ranch property deal.
By purchasing large tracts now, Southard said, the district has “saved millions of dollars this way.”
To handle the students from those large-scale developments, the school will need to accommodate around 900 kids.
Such a middle school on a site of that size would likely be three stories tall, Southard said.
An ideal size for a middle school site is around 40 acres but purchasing that additional 10 acres seemed irresponsible given the current economic climate, Southard said.
“Inflation has cost us an additional school site,” he said. “But, we’re not in bad shape.”
The district’s renovations to three campuses—the Early Childhood Center, the middle school and the high school—will cost $14.6 million instead of the $12.9 million forecasted during the bond election.
Even the equipment that cannot be acquired and installed until next summer is factored into that $14.6 million.
“We know what that’s going to cost,” he said. “We already know the renovations that we’re going to have for the bond.”
The district is also focused on getting a design established for the transportation center, for which $5.5 million was set aside in the bond.
“I don’t know if we’ll have any money left; we just don’t know yet because we don’t have the GMP on the bus barn,” Southard said. “But we have lots of needs.”
After all is said and done with the renovations, the land purchases and the transportation center, the district may revisit purchasing school sites or may start focusing on priority to level projects on the campuses already identified as needing work.
“We may make a decision if there’s enough money there left to go get another site or start doing some other projects around the district,” Southard said. “Maybe some of the Priority 2 things that the committee [identified], like some of the flooring and stuff like that.”
Those projects would be done at the campuses identified by the bond committee, which was comprised of community members.
“It’s not like it would be wasted on things that aren’t needed,” Southard said. “We’re having issues with the flooring at the middle school. There’s water seeping through the slab.”
The expense of that project would possibly exhaust the district’s resources for other updates on the other buildings and facilities not included in the 2021 bond.
Additional projects that are being funded through the district’s maintenance and operations budget are happening, including
improvements to the parking lot at Massey Stadium and other areas throughout the district.
“We budgeted $270,000 this year in our general operating to do a lot of maintenance,” he said.
That room came from enrollment growth and a focus on offering more career and technical education courses, which get the district more state funding.
PPISD is set to have a joint meeting with the Pilot Point City Council on July 13 at the administration building.