El Paso

$135 million rebuild would make Socorro H.S. Borderland's priciest school

$135 million Socorro HS rebuild

EL PASO, Texas - If voters approve a $448.5 million bond this November, Socorro High School could become the Borderland's priciest school. The proposed reconstruction of Socorro Independent School District's flagship school is set at $135 million.

Socorro High School was built more than 50 years ago. District officials said the comparison to other high schools such as Pebble Hills and Eastlake is like night and day.

SISD superintendent Dr. Jose Espinoza said it's time the students and the community at Socorro High have the same facilities the students have at the district's newer campuses.

But why the $135 million price tag? Eastwood High School in the Ysleta Independent School District is currently undergoing reconstruction at a cost of $93 million.

Tom Eyeington, chief operations officer for SISD, points to the construction boom happening in the Borderland.

"Costs have gone up because of increased construction within the area," Eyeington said. "Because of the other districts passing (bonds). And not only the other school districts, there is work going on in other entities. At Texas Tech, UTEP, Fort Bliss and things like that. So that puts a strain on our local contractors and suppliers that we depend on for building these schools."

Eyeington said the cost includes the purchase of adjacent land to accommodate construction. The brick and mortar cost is expected to be $80 to $90 million. The total cost also includes fixtures, furniture, equipment, construction costs and fees.

The new Socorro High School would be about the same size as Pebble Hills and Eastlake and have the capacity for 3,000 students.  It will include a fine arts center plus career and technology upgrades.

Eyeington said when you look around the state of Texas, the $135 million dollar price tag is comparable to other high school projects.

"Northside ISD (Arlington) just finished a high school for $141 million. Sherman Texas just finished a high school, or has a bond program out for a high school for $140 million. So, our numbers are not too far off," said Eyeington.

If the bond passes, SISD officials said Socorro High School will be one of the first construction projects.

Montwood, El Dorado and Americas would also see improvements with an estimated cost of $95.8 million.

Unlike the El Paso Independent School District which is losing students, SISD is planning for an increase in students.

"We're a growing school district, we're the destination district. People are moving to SISD because they want to bring their children into one of our schools," Espinoza said.

If the bond passes, SISD would also build two new elementary schools and one middle school, with an estimated price tag of $105.8 million.

One elementary and the middle school would be built to accommodate the Eastlake feeder pattern. The other elementary school would be built in the Pebble Hills feeder pattern area.

Dr. Espinoza said there is currently an overflow of about 1,300 students  some of its campuses currently have an overflow of students forcing some of them to attend a campus further from their home.

Other proposed projects include $23.6 million for support services, $20.8 million for elementary multi-purpose rooms and $67.5 million for athletic improvements.

The last time taxpayers approved a bond for SISD was in 2011 for $297.4 million. SISD said projects were completed a year ahead of schedule and came in under budget.

If the bond is approved, it will add $0.106 per $100 valuation in 2017-18 or $8.83 per month on a home with a $100,000 taxable value.

Election Day is Nov. 7.

To see an entire list of the bond projects click here:


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