ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - The Alto Independent School District is hoping voters in November will help the district pay for a new high school in the wake of a destructive tornado.
A tornado on April 13 severely damaged the Alto High School, making the building uninhabitable for students in the 2019-20 school year.
“The high school is not safe to be in,” said Lee Pearman, a bond steering committee member. “It’s not safe for anybody to be in at this point.”
Students have spent the school year learning in portable buildings on other campus grounds.
“Our students are still transitioning between the math wing and our ag buildings, so with that being able to have a more secure campus is definitely much-needed," said Shanequa Redd-Dorsey, Alto High School principal.
School district leaders said they exhausted all other options before presenting voters with a $10.5 million bond that would help pay for a new high school. The bond was originally planned closer to Nov. 2022, but the damage done to Alto High School was too much to reconsider.
“The long-range plan had always been in about three years when the elementary was paid off to come back in and ask for a bond to replace the high school," said Pearman. "The storm just sped this process up.”
Bond revenue would pay for the demolition of the existing school and construction of a new school on the same site. Pearman said it’s a way for a small town to take care of a need when it’s denied state storm recovery assistance.
“It makes you feel angry," he added. "When a storm hits us a deaf ear falls upon us.”
Lower property values didn’t place Alto at the threshold to qualify for state funding. Insurance didn’t pay enough for replacement. The district found a bond proposal a feasible option.
“The school in most small communities is the biggest employer and without the schools, the community dries up," Pearman added.
The bond would also pay for a new gymnasium that would be used by all grades in the district.
Early voting continues through Friday, Nov. 1. Election day will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.