The Bridge City school district and Superintendent Mike King presented information on new buildings and changes that are needed in the district. One of the main items on the list is a performing arts center with a theater and rehearsal halls for the band, choir and Strutters drill team. The center would also have space for art students to have exhibitions. King said a performing arts center would cost $15 million to $18 million. A $20 million bond issue would cost the average homeowner about $172 a year more. The Orange County Appraisal District sets the average home value in Bridge City at $130,000.

King stressed that the community needs to make a decision on whether to call a bond election. The recommendations for buildings came from a community committee that studied the district's facilities for about 10 months. Bond elections can be held only in May and November.

Dr. Fred Zoch, a former board member, stood up in the comments and questions segment and pointed out that the citizens might not be able to afford an extra bond issue. He pointed out that federal flood insurance might be skyrocketing for Bridge City properties and people won't be able to afford the costs.

The committee’s research showed that the high school choir has 95 students and no rehearsal space. In addition, students have to walk from the choir hall to the main building to use the bathroom. Art exhibitions from 120 students have to be set up in the hallways of the high school. The theater arts program has 130 students. The black box theater is a classroom and practice facility, not a performance stage. The drama students use the ‘cafetorium’ to perform. That stage is not a standard size and does not have proper lighting, plus the acoustics are bad. The high school also has BCTV for students to produce a television show. The media students don’t have a studio or a space to edit the show. The drill team had 30 members and needs spaces for practicing and dressing. The 11th and 12th grade students in the Strutters use the hall as a dressing room. King said that is a benefit. The hall is larger than the dressing room the younger members use. The band program is growing quickly. King said the high school band hall was built for 50 students. The program will have 90 students next year and up to 175 students in a couple of years. The band program now has 349 students in the sixth through 12th grades.

Other needs in the district include new entrance systems for three of the schools because of safety issues. The new elementary school is the only one with a ‘hard’ entrance, or doors in which visitors must be ‘buzzed in’ during school hours. Improvements need to be made for the athletic department and the middle school. One thing the athletic department needs is a new field house and improvements at baseball, softball and football fields.

-Margaret Toal, KOGT-