The Victoria Independent School District is winding up a series of major improvements for its students. A voter-approved, $159 million bond issue in 2007 underwrote a comprehensive building program that has built two elementary, one middle and two high schools, as well as a natatorium and auditorium at the Memorial High School campus.
A big reason for the program’s success has been the degree to which school officials tapped into what the community wanted for the system, which serves around 13,700 students, says Bob Moore, superintendent.
“We were told by parents and students alike that the schools were too large,” Moore says.
“So a theme of our campaign for the bond election was that we would create smaller learning communities, so teachers would have the potential to develop better relationships with the students, and the students could also build better relationships with each other.”
New School Enrollment
The new elementary schools hold between 450 and 500 students, the middle schools between 700 and 750 students, and the new high schools are designed for between 1,800 and 2,000 students. Another key component of the overall plan is the Memorial High conversion into a magnet-type facility for VISD students as well as those at private schools, the home schooled and students in surrounding districts.
The school will serve as an advanced learning and early-college center, with students shuttling in and out for two-hour periods each day. That, coupled with the natatorium and 1,500-seat auditorium, is really generating some excitement.
“The fine-arts auditorium will also be available for community use, and there’s not another facility in Victoria with that seating capacity,” Moore says. “It will have the equipment to be able to stage first-class touring plays, things like that, and the natatorium also will be the first of its kind in the area. It will be a big draw for the city and the area to have those kinds of facilities.”
When the last ribbon is cut in August 2010, the VISD will consist of 26 buildings; two high schools, four middle schools and 17 elementary schools, as well as the advanced learning center and other facilities. And because of prudent financial management, an additional $10 million in interest was earned on the original bond issue, money that has also been plowed back into the system.
“Everything has gone as smoothly as you could imagine,” Moore says. “The bond issue passed 2-1, which was a strong signal of support from our community. We’ve really connected with what they want, and our task now is to stay connected and make sure that we continue to meet the needs of the people that are supporting the VISP.”
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