Six candidates will compete for two seats in the Sharyland school board election as voters decide on a $40 million bond for renovations and improvements in the district.
At a special meeting held Friday, Feb. 14, Sharyland trustees called the May 2, 2020 election that will include the bond to upgrade Sharyland High School and John H. Shary Elementary School.
“There have been several committees meeting to discuss necessary facility upgrades for the past year and a half and I think this is the opportune time to do somethings for Sharyland High and John H. Shary Elementary,” district Superintendent Dr. Maria M. Vidaurri said at a board workshop last week. “There’s a list of items we’d like to get done and we narrowed it down to the most important needs.”
The $40M bond will go toward paying for several projects in each campus. For Sharyland High, upgrades include extending the band hall, renovating the cafeteria, classrooms and library and library lecture hall and the construction of a new “Innovation Center” building that will be used as a collaboration and “maker space.”
“The campus was built in 1975 so there’s a need to upgrade it on the inside,” Vidaurri said.
Under the proposed bond, updates to John H. Shary will include a new parking lot to alleviate traffic and a new wing for 6th grade students complete with a new library and computer lab.
“It’s currently the only elementary school in the district without a computer lab in the library,” Ismael Gonzalez, assistant superintendent for business and finance said, adding that the proposed upgrades to SHS will range from $22 million to $28 million while the upgrades at John H. Shary are estimated to cost between $3 million to $4 million.
“We won’t have the exact number until we go out for bids on these projects,” Gonzalez told the board.
Should any money remain from the bond issue after the upgrades, Gonzalez said the board can look into upgrading the district’s administrative building.
“Right now we want to take care of the students first and then maybe two years down the line we can see how we’re doing before we decide to upgrade our admin buildings,” Vidaurri said.
School board President Jose “Pepe” Garcia agreed with Vidaurri’s suggestion, adding that he has seen people positively react to the news of a possible bond election when he brings it up.
“People are excited, they know Sharyland High needs this and the kids deserve it,” Garcia said. “They feel it’s the right time, Sharyland parents who are always talking about how small the classrooms are in their kid’s schools will be happy.”
Board member Julio Cerda said he hopes district voters consider the necessity of the bond election before voting.
“The needs are there, we’re here to discuss them and give it a shot,” Cerda said.
Cerda is running for school board along with fellow incumbent Ricardo “Ricky” Longoria. Cerda has been on the board since 2014 and Longoria since 2008.
Cerda will face criminal investigator Alejandro Rodriguez who ran for school board against Longoria in the 2014 election.
Longoria will face three opponents in May: Walmart Health and Wellness Director and pharmacist Cesar Ramirez, McAllen-based attorney Matthew Dillon Richter, who at 26 would be the youngest member of the board if elected, and Jozabad Jahaziel “Jay” Palacios, an assistant principal for the McAllen school district.
A look at the candidates for Sharyland school board will be featured in next week’s issue of the Progress Times.
This story was originally published in the Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 edition of the Progress Times.