by Anum Valliani
BIG LAKE - Reagan County ISD has called for a $14.5 million bond. District officials say they are in dire need of a new elementary school since the current campus is outdated and also needs safety improvements.
The infrastructure is shot, according to the Reagan County Elementary School Principal, Mandy Traylor. She, like many, describes the place as a maze.
"When you have a parent come in from out of town and they've just moved here and they ask where something is, I would have to get one of my kids to just take them," former Reagan County Elementary School teacher, Karen McDonald, said.
The principal took NewsWest 9 on a tour of the school to show some of the problem areas. There were cracks along too many walls, rust damage, boarded up windows and ancient AC units that posed as electrical and space-related hazards.
"Fire drills are not a problem because you're evacuating, you can get everyone out. Tornado drills are a little more tricky because we have so many points of entry and windows it limits the amount of space we can put the kids," Traylor said.
The bond also calls for funding for transportation, updated technology and the need for upgraded security for lockdowns and visitor monitoring.
Traylor said in terms of security, the plan is to have one button in the central office that would lock all doors immediately. Officials say there hasn't been a violent intruder incident in the past but they would want to have the place guarded before having to test their limits. Increasing the main office's visibility is prime for that.
"There was a custody dispute or something and they would want that child and the teacher's going, "oh my gosh" and so we call the office but if those parents have to come in through the office that would be so much better," McDonald said.
Principal Traylor put together a team of 15 teachers, parents and invested community members to give feedback to the architect.
"He left with a little bit of a different plan but everybody felt good about it," Traylor said.
The current building has been there since the 1940's. Since then, it's been through a couple of renovations that sandwich the original building. The new cafeteria and the mint-condition gym are part of the area that will be untouched.
"It's mainly the infrastructure between the two new areas that really need to be updated. Classroom size, safety and then ADA accessibility," Traylor said.
Principal Traylor said the bond will not require a tax increase for the townsfolk and people are confident the bond will be pass.
"Big Lake is just a wonderful community, and they care about the kids even if they don't have kids in school anymore," McDonald said.