By Betsy Dolan
Fort Bend ISD’s Board of Trustees approved almost $3 million in building renovation projects and new vehicle purchases at their October 22 meeting.
$1.9 million was approved for roof replacement at Elkins High School and Wheeler Field House while $410,000 was approved for restroom renovations and terrazzo repairs to Christina McAuliffe Middle School. In addition, the Trustees approved the purchase of 14.8 acres of land in the Riverstone subdivision.
“While we are purchasing land it does not mean that we are building a school,” Trustee Susan Hohnbaum said. “There are no funds in our current budget or from our last bond to build any facility on that property.”
A request for $651,000 to purchase several new vehicles for the district’s police, transportation, facilities and design/construction departments was also approved with Trustee Jenny Bailey casting the only dissenting vote.
Bailey questioned the transportation’s department request for nine Chevrolet Tahoes which the district says will replace older, high mileage passenger vans.
“We approved a 3% raise and then we negated it with our insurance premiums going up but we want nine Tahoes?” Bailey said.
Dr. Hoke said that the expenditure is part of the adopted budget and Tahoes, which seat eight, are being used by other districts as a safer and more affordable option to transport small groups of students to events.
Trustee Dave Rosenthal asked about the justification for the purchase of five specially equipped Tahoes for the district’s police department. Chief David Rider said the department needed high clearance vehicles in flooding emergencies and couldn’t depend on help from Sugar Land or Missouri City police because they would be busy with their own emergencies during flooding situations.
“We have vehicles that are 15 years old that are still on the road,” Chief Rider told the trustees. “I have vehicles that we can’t even get parts for any more that just sit in the lot. I have officers who can’t respond to calls for service at feeder schools because they don’t have a patrol car.”
Trustee Dr. Patsy Taylor voiced her support for the Tahoes saying they would reduce wear and tear on the district’s aging school bus fleet. Dr. Hoke said approximately 400 school buses are transporting students on a typical Friday night but that the district needs to cycle out some of their fleet and replace some of the buses.
“We have $4 million of authorized but unissued bonds waiting for us to go to sale,” Hoke said. “If we move forward with the elementary school construction this spring, I will be bringing forward a bond proposal and buses will be part of the package.”
Trustee Bruce Albright did not participate in the discussion and vote because he is employed by Helfman Ford who, along with Caldwell County Ford/Chevrolet, will be selling the vehicles to Fort Bend ISD.