The traffic congestion at John H. Shary Elementary has been an ongoing issue for years, but Sharyland ISD is in the process of correcting the matter. At the Oct. 24 board of trustees meeting, the school board unanimously approved a contractor to complete work on the parking lot and bus drive to alleviate the problems.
SISD awarded a $719,653.12 contract with two alternates to Alton-based company Rio United Builders. The district received four bids, but Rio United ranked the highest and provided the lowest offer. The other bids in order of ranking were Texas Cordia Construction ($764,224), Terra Fuerte ($785,000) and Kimber 1985 ($880,000). Rio United Builders outranked Texas Cordia and Terra Fuerte by a single point with a score of 93 out of 100 in the district’s hiring criteria for third-party vendors.
“I’m pleased to announce our parking lot’s going to get rolling,” Board President Hector Rivera said as he approved the project.
Shary Elementary’s traffic-related issues occur most often during drop-off and pick-up hours. A line of vehicles forms along the two-lane Glasscock Road and backs up into 495 E. Griffith Parkway, creating a bottleneck effect and pedestrian hazards during rush hours. The district contacted the Texas Department of Transportation and Mission city leaders in 2021 to inquire about reconstruction. All three entities agreed it was time to update the space to improve functionality.
“What brought this up to us is really the safety of our students, staff and our community that lives around there,” Executive Director of Maintenance Mark Dougherty said at a November 2021 board meeting. “We’ve heard their concerns, so we’re trying to come together between the three organizations and come up with a solution that will help alleviate the problems that we have out there right now.”
John H. Shary is among the oldest elementary schools in the district, with one of the largest student populations of all the elementary campuses. It was built around 1986 and originally housed grades K-2, but it has since expanded to include prekindergarten and K-6. Part of the growing pains means the campus has had to make do with crowding in the classrooms, a dated library and parking lot accommodations that do not fit the size of the campus population.
The district originally planned to address all of John H. Shary’s campus needs, and the facility issues at Sharyland High School, with a multimillion-dollar bond. But constituents voted against the bond in two separate elections in 2020 and 2021 for $40 million and $35 million, respectively. After the bond failed a second time, district leaders had to carve out funds in the general budget for the projects.
Now, Sharyland ISD has to complete those repairs and update the facilities at a slower pace due to a lack of funding.
“Unfortunately, the needs don’t go away. Those needs are still very prevalent,” Superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri said in a 2021 Progress Times interview. “Our job now is to…look at our prioritized list of needs at each campus and then begin our process of trying to repair as much as we can at these campuses one year at a time.”