Cleveland ISD trustees approve new elementary campus for Colony Ridge community

Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter (second from left) is joined by the principle partners in the construction of a new elementary campus in the Grand San Jacinto community south of Plum Grove. With him (left to right) are Scott Willis, project manager, Bob Bedrich and Brandon Wilson with Pogue Construction and Devin Wilson with Huckabee Architecture.

Cleveland ISD’s board of trustees on Tuesday night, June 30, awarded a $24.376 million contract to McKinney, Texas-based Pogue Construction for a new elementary campus in the Colony Ridge development south of Plum Grove. The yet-unnamed campus is being referred to as Elementary Campus #5 until the school board determines its name.

Construction of the new campus will begin in the near future, said Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter. It is being built on an 18-acre tract at the corner of Almeda and Grand San Jacinto streets in the Grand San Jacinto subdivision. The land was donated to Cleveland ISD by Colony Ridge Land LLC.

Trotter said the campus, designed by Huckabee Architecture, will be based on a prototype of Southside Elementary School in Cleveland. Funding for the campus will come from bond money approved in the $198 million bond election last November. The bond provides the financial resources for the school district to address overcrowding and rapid growth.

“I am very excited to share with the taxpayers that Cleveland ISD has secured a very solid bid on our first building of the November 2019 bond projects. Huckabee Architects has designed an efficient building and Pogue Construction Company has provided us an exceptional price for the building,” Trotter said. “I remain committed to providing the taxpayers of Cleveland ISD the best facilities possible, within budget. In this case, I am pleased to report that the bid is well below budget.”

Board President Chris Wood added his enthusiasm and support for the new project, saying he couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of Pogue Construction as the general contractor.

“As evidenced in the bids we received, Mr. Trotter and his team have worked diligently to secure the best process for our November 2019 bond projects. The district prides itself on managing its financial resources and being good stewards of our community’s tax dollars. The bids we received are a clear reflection of these practices and expectations,” Wood said.

In addition to the new elementary campus, funds from the $198 million bond will be used to renovate Northside Elementary in Cleveland, build a sixth elementary schools and a new junior high, and add a teacher learning center-administrative office. The bond also pays for upgrades to the softball and baseball fields at Cleveland High School.

On Tuesday, the board also approved a 1.5 percent salary increase for all District employees, an increase in the starting bus driver pay of $18.50 an hour, a retention bonus of $500 for administration, teachers and other Chapter 21 personnel, and a $250 retention bonus for all support staff.

The meeting also included a budget workshop led by Karen Billingsley, the district’s financial advisor. She explained that the proposed budget for the 2021-2022 school year is $81,685,668, an increase of $12,696,140, equivalent to 18.40 percent, from the previous year.

The district’s payroll absorbs 80.69 percent of the annual budget. In order to keep from pushing off a tax rate increase to Cleveland ISD residents, the District will use $651,000 from the fund balance. Billingsley said property values within the District have gone up significantly even though the District’s tax rate has gone down.

The Board will not be able to adopt a tax rate until August, however, after assessments are made by the Texas Education Agency.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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