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Brenham voters to consider bond to build new junior high building

Supporters of the bond say the community needs a new junior high. The current building was built 60 years ago and was intended to be a bomb shelter.

BRENHAM, Texas — Back in August of 2021, teachers, parents and community members proposed a bond to make some much-needed changes to the Brenham Independent School district.

This bond committee was formed back in August, to replace the current junior high building with a new facility. A task long overdue, teachers say, despite the many repairs done to the building over the years. 

AVID teacher, Jenny Schaer, who also sits on the bond committee, explained the laundry list of issues with the building and how it impacts teachers' ability to teach. Cracks in the walls, creaks on the floor and water leaking throughout the building are just half of the issues wrong with the 60-year-old building that was built back in 1964 as a bomb shelter. 

"It's built as a bomb shelter so we have no windows, it's difficult to move electrical and Wi-Fi throughout the building because of how it's constructed," Schaer said. "We have had a lot of upkeep and maintenance. We have a great maintenance department and they try to do everything that they can but at some point, the structural issues they can no longer maintain." 

Some days teachers can't do lesson plans because of the electrical wiring issues. Additionally, part of the current building was built below ground level, which is the reason why water constantly seeps throughout the building she stated.

Moreover, the building setup is not in ADA compliance for those who are disabled, forcing students to move through classes in any weather condition. This means traveling to the different portables and classrooms in the pouring rain or freezing cold. 

The issuance of the entire bond will cost $153 million by Brenham ISD. Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin explained how they've exhausted all their efforts to upkeep the building, but it's just not enough.

"It has been adapted as much as a building probably can with all the different changes that have taken place since the 1960s."

While they both explained how it will be bittersweet seeing it go, it will be the best environment for students and staff.

"We have some fantastic kids. But I'm still held back to not let them not have as many opportunities as other districts are giving their students is just sad and it's stressful for a teacher."

Early voting has begun and will extend until April 25, then from May 2 through May 3. Voting day for the bond will be on May 7th at the Washington County Annex Courthouse.

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