COPPERAS COVE — As Copperas Cove Independent School District begins researching an additional campus, the city may provide an option for a new school location.
“When House Creek was built, it was supposed to be built for five years, and it is already reaching its capacity at two,” said Joseph Burns, district superintendent. “We have been kind of exploring some options and the ‘what-ifs.’ One thing that is helpful is that the city has said that it could possibly have an offer on the table.”
In March, Copperas Cove City Council members agreed to start discussions to offer portions of City Park to the school district. The city’s preliminary plan included the Civic Center, fire station No. 2 and about 12 acres of the park located on Avenue B.
“We could relocate our civic center off of (U.S. Highway) 190 and the district could purchase the Civic Center and property,” City Manager Andrea Gardner said in the March meeting, noting the building needs a new facade anyway.
It takes about 20 to 25 acres to build a campus and its amenities, Burns said Monday.
Along with the Civic Center and fire station’s property, the district would need about an additional 12 acres of City Park, Gardner said.
Looking into the option couldn’t hurt the city, Mayor John Hull said during the meeting.
Gardner suggested a new center be constructed on East U.S. 190 closer to the city’s hotels, but Councilman Jim Schmitz suggested moving it to Olgetree Gap, where the city plans to build a future athletic complex.
Councilman Mark Peterson warned of closing the Civic Center to make way for a new school.
“Do we anticipate any void in the time we sell and the (new) building, because we have a lot of events at the Civic Center,” Peterson asked, noting that several organizations and activities couldn’t hold functions if the facility closed.
Gardner reaffirmed to the council that the city hadn’t discussed any options at length with the school district.
The district isn’t rushing to build new campuses despite high enrollment numbers, Burns said.
“We are not in a ‘have to’ situation; this is more a look ahead,” Burns said. “When you are going to spend $15 (million) to $20 million on a facility that is going to be there for 50 years, we need to make sure that is a good decision and the right decision.”
On Monday, Burns wasn’t aware of any particular proposal from the city, but said both administrations were having initial discussions Thursday. He also didn’t know if the City Park location would be ideal for the city.
“Our preference would be to have a neighborhood concept where the majority of the children served are in close proximity,” Burns said.
With several neighborhood subdivisions proposed to the city, there could be an estimated 2,000 lots for homes.
Knowing that, the district has been looking for possible locations for schools throughout the entire city, Burns said. However, the district is not going to narrow down areas until it gets a demographics study finished, which was contracted in March.
“Right now when we talk about enrollment growth, that is not based on hard data,” Burns said, noting those numbers are from schools and not specific areas where the city might be growing.
The demographic study, which is expected to be finished by the end of May or early June, should supply accurate projections on what portions of the district’s jurisdiction will be growing and help pinpoint areas that may need a new school.
“We are hoping the demographic study comes back and gives us some direction and then the board will come back and have to develop a long-range plan for facilities,” Burns said.