Henrietta ISD’s athletic facilities, as well as other areas of the three-campus school, will soon get major upgrades as part of a $3.06 million loan approved by the school board in a special meeting Thursday night.
Renovations will be paid for through a Qualified Zone Academy Bond from the Texas Education Agency. QZAB is a federally funded state program that provides low-interest loans to qualifying districts. HISD will pay off the loan over 15 years with 0.012 percent interest.
Included in the school rehabilitation plan is the installation of artificial turf on the high school football, baseball and softball fields, a move Superintendent Jeff McClure sees as a necessity considering the area’s pattern of drought. By his figures, based on a study conducted by Bridgeport ISD, the cost of artificial turf is about the same as grass over a period of 20 years. His figures included the cost of resurfacing an artificial turf field after 10 years, as well as the cost of water, fertilizer and manpower needed to maintain grass turf.
“The two things that you really benefit from using artificial turf are you’re not using any water, and you’re increasing your opportunities,” McClure said.
Without a reliable, cost-effective source of water, McClure said the school would have considered reserving the grass turf football field for school games only, which would mean no band practice or youth league football games. With artificial turf, those events would continue. Unlike grass, artificial turf provides a consistent playing surface in any weather condition, and is safer for players, said McClure.
While proposed costs for renovations of the sports facilities have not been released, they will take up approximately two-thirds of the funding.
A portion of what remains will go toward the renovation of the high school auditorium, including new seats, sound system and lighting. A new, larger greenhouse will be constructed for the agriscience department and roof repairs will be made to the former home economics and agriscience building. The loan also includes funding for the replacement of windows and lighting at all three campuses not included in the recent construction bond. McClure said some of the windows and lights to be replaced are original to the elementary and high school, constructed in 1958.
“We want to continue to enhance student safety, improve the learning environment, and continue with water and energy conservation,” McClure said.