Photo: Kim Christensen, Photographer / Kim Christensen
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For 50 years Friendswood High School has looked virtually the same to its students, but that could soon change if voters approve two bond packages totaling $128.3 million this November.
While not holding the lion’s share of the proposed construction costs in the bond, the price tag for renovating the high school is steep at $53.4 million.
Currently, the Friendswood schools property tax rate is $1.26 per $100 of taxable valuation. If the bond packages pass Nov. 3, property owners could see their taxes rise by 18 cents.
The blueprint for the proposed construction at the high school is extensive and includes:
a new auditorium
renovating the current auditorium space and moving fine arts classrooms there
renovating career and technical education classrooms and expanding into the existing fine arts rooms
building a new competition gym with storage and locker rooms
renovating existing locker rooms
reconfiguring and adding athletic fields
The list of projects is lengthy, but it will not change the school’s character, said Meghan Flanagan, a Friendswood High School senior that served on the advisory committee that developed the bond package’s master plan.
“The school isn’t changing,” she said. “It’s just getting upgraded.”
Friendswood is a community with deep roots and it is not uncommon for multiple generations of a family to decide to settle in the town.
“A lot of my friends’ parents graduated from (from Friendswood High School) and they had the same teachers,” Flanagan said. “It’s neat that the campus has been standing for so long and that so many families can share that bond with each other.”
At the same time, the school is starting to show its age in some areas.
Flanagan said the advisory committee toured all of the campuses and at the high school, some deficiencies stood out.
“Being back behind the stage (in the auditorium and seeing where things could be improved) and seeing the culinary room and how small it is and knowing how many of my friends have been turned away from the program, when that’s what they really wanted to pursue and considered it as a career, It’s sad,” she said.
“I think it’s absolutely extraordinary that we have the opportunity fix things like that and to pass a bond that will allow students to have those opportunities.”
Flanagan admits that serving on a committee that was going to help guide the district toward a multimillion-dollar bond package was daunting, but things really came down to how do you move the Friendswood school district forward?
“The facilities just don’t match the level of learning we receive at Friendswood High School and this bond is a fantastic way to catch up,” she said. “Some people might be thinking ‘do we still want to do this?’ To me, it’s a question of do we do it or not? Yes, the tax rates are going to go up, but not by much.
“The opportunities are what’s important and the students are why we have the schools.”
John DeLapp is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.