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School district continues $8 million bond package construction

ERICA RODRIGUEZ

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Aug. 17, 2010 at 3:17 a.m.

Victoria workman Sam Sanchez attaches steel frames to the new Bloomington science room and media center Wednesday morning. The building is part of an $8 million construction project.

BLOOMINGTON - The smell of sweat and dirty football pads trickled in and out of the un-air-conditioned Bobcat locker rooms. A slat of wood supports a broken air-conditioner above community showers with calcium buildup on the floors.

"We're way past due on a new field house," said Randy Perez, athletic director and head football coach, during a tour of the facilities.

Outside the high school, noisy construction crews hammered away on a new $1.3 million athletic field house.

The facility is the first of a series of improvements made possible by the district's $8 million bond package passed in November 2008.

"It just says we're proud of you," said superintendent Brad Williams about the effort.

The package, the largest the district ever passed, includes construction of two new media centers, a new transportation facility, athletic field house and installing air-conditioning in the competition gym.

Building for growth was not the issue for the district, Williams said. The renovations were direly needed.

"It's not a growth issue. It's a revitalization as much as anything else," Williams said.

Enrollment numbers have steadily decreased for the last three years for the 2-A district, something Williams attributes to loss of jobs. But he hopes the improvements might help change things.

"We're doing everything we can to draw students," he said. "We were losing kids to private schools because what we had was out of date."

Improvements were also underway at Bloomington Elementary School, where a $1 million new media center is in progress. The facility is scheduled to be completed in March.

The parking lot was also being paved for the first time.

"This was all dirt," Williams said, motioning toward the area. "Teachers had to park in the dirt and mud. It was a mess."

Parents and students believe the new changes will bring back school spirit to the district.

"Hopefully, it raises our pride," said Jonathan Turner, a senior football player.

Jonathan said players would often have to defend the school's outdated athletic facilities from visiting teams.

"People come here and they see our school compared to theirs and they think it's small and dirty," said Fernando Acosta, a senior football player. "Especially since it's my senior year, I'd really like to see things get better."

Carin Drozd, a parent, believes the new buildings will be a nice welcome into the school year.

"Everything is rebuilding and these new buildings are going in and it's a fresh start," she said.

Drozd, who also attended the high school, became emotional when talking about the improvements.

"It's been a long time coming and you can feel it in the kids," she said.

The current field house, which is more than 50 years old, is scheduled for demolition after the new facility opens in November. All facilities are scheduled to be completed in March.

"Once we get everybody over there, I think that they will see the progress is here," Perez said.

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