The Sinton Independent School District is looking to improve not only its aging infrastructure, but also expand capacity as a $1.9 billion steel plant moves into town.
With Steel Dynamics set to begin operations by next summer, much of the district’s hope in expanding that capacity rides on a $111 million 2020 bond election.
The bond was set for May, but was moved to the Nov. 3 ballot per a vote from Sinton ISD’s Board of Trustees, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Proposition A of the project includes constructing a replacement high school, renovations to Smith Middle School, Welder Elementary School and Sinton Elementary School.
Proposition B would construct a new athletics and multi-purpose building to Smith Middle School, as well as add a track.
The bond is unusual because, while it would provide districtwide improvements which include a new high school, it comes with no tax rate increase for the public, said Sinton ISD Superintendent Chad Jones.
According to a district page explaining the bond, since Steel Dynamics plans to hire hundreds of employees, Sinton ISD’s certified value will more than triple, allowing the current tax rate of $1.4483 to remain the same.
According to the TEA's Texas Education Directory website, Sinton ISD's student enrollment in October 2019 was 2,152.
Jones said the long-term projections he’s heard for Steel Dynamics could surpass 1,500 jobs.
“That could change a community,” Jones said. “As a school district, you want to make sure that you’re planning for the future and you’re looking at the possible growth that could come from this industry moving in.”
Sinton High School was built in 1967 and has spanned many generations. Lisa Cordova, a mother of three, graduated from Sinton High School in 1995. Her mother graduated in 1972.
This year, her oldest daughter Enola will be starting her freshman year. Even though her first day will be online, her mother believes it’s time for a new high school.
On top of the aging building, Cordova said the population of Sinton could soon change. The new high school would expand its 600-student capacity to 800.
“Now the people that are moving to the area because of Steel Dynamics, their children will be enrolled in school, so those class sizes are gonna increase,” Cordova said.
Down the line, Jones said further expansion is something the Sinton ISD could look into.
“I’ve talked to some developers that have said that there’s some things that are starting to move and some things starting to happen,” he said. “So the long-term projections — a lot of it’s going to depend on exactly how quickly homes come up and (when) those are available.”
A large part of his job, Jones said, is planning ahead.
“Not only for now, but five years, 10 years, 15 years down the road and looking at trends,” he said. “Sinton has been very stable for many, many years. We’ve had around the same enrollment for a long time.
“As you do get new jobs into town, people are going to have choices of where they go to school, and there’s a lot of pride surrounding Sinton ISD, but we want our facilities to match that pride.”