By Chuck Davidson
CHESTER – With a meal provided later by the Chester Buyer’s Club on Thursday, Jan. 26, Superintendent Dr. Paul Drake welcomed about 75 community members who came to learn about the district’s facility needs and review ideas for bond propositions.
Chester ISD has served the Chester community for more than 100 years and currently has several old buildings needing major upgrades or replacement.
Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong out of Lufkin recently completed a structural assessment on all campus buildings and presented updates as to what is needed for each one. Bottom line: this audit recommends that the current high school building (not the gymnasium) and the current junior high building and old gym be demolished.
Both buildings are out of compliance with security gaps and the high school has asbestos which must be abated.
An analysis by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) estimated that it would cost more than 125% to remodel these vs replacing them. The preliminary budget for possible projects (new junior/senior high school, demolishment of the two current structures, new entry and restrooms for the competitive gym, upgraded Ag shop and cafeteria kitchen work) is more than $4.8 million, not counting soft costs like asbestos work, surveys etc.
The current Chester ISD M&O (maintenance and operations) tax rate is only .9603 (with no existent I&S, or Interest and Sinking rate), one of the lowest in the area, and the maximum proposed I & S rate would be .3 %.
Handouts were available for those present to see specific building needs and after Drake’s overview, tours were given of the facilities mentioned, led by himself and business manager Austin Odom.
Once concluded, all attendees enjoyed food and fellowship provided by the members of the buyer’s club and friends.