History of Carl Schurz and Seele Projects
Carl Schurz Elementary was built in 1935 and Seele was built in 1950. Both are among the oldest facilities in the district, and the district has been working towards a solution to meet the needs of these aging campuses for some time now. However, because leadership has changed hands twice over the past few years, and the district is constantly monitoring the community’s demographic outlook, Dr. Laurelyn Arterbury, the Board of Trustees and current leadership are now reevaluating the issues at hand to determine what is best for our district moving forward.
March 2018 – Board calls 2018 Bond election
In March of 2018, the NBISD Board of Trustees voted to call the 2018 bond election. In this bond package, district officials earmarked an estimated $29 million for a 850-student, two-story elementary school (Elementary #10) on the property located at 659 Guenther Avenue. This was the former site of the Ninth Grade Center, which was demolished in 2021. The new elementary school was slated to open in August 2023.
This new elementary campus was to be the home for students who attend Carl Schurz and Seele elementaries. At this time, both Seele and Carl Schurz were recommended by the Facilities Planning Committee to be taken offline as elementary schools and repurposed for other facilities needs.
November 2018 – Voters approve 2018 Bond Program
In November, voters approved the 2018 bond program for $118,341,000. The election drew 68 percent in favor and 32 percent against the bond proposition. A total of 10,460 voters were in favor of the bond and 4,873 against. A total of 15,333 ballots were cast.
Following the approval of the bond, there were two years worth of planning done to make the new elementary school a reality with design and engineering work.
January 2021 – Superintendent Randy Moczygemba announces retirement
In January of 2021, NBISD Superintendent Randy Moczygemba announced that he would be retiring. His last official day as superintendent was March 22, 2021.
May 2021 – Board announces hiring of Dr. Cade Smith
Dr. James Largent filled in as interim superintendent until Dr. Cade Smith was hired in May 2021. Dr. Smith’s first day as superintendent was June 1, 2021.
July 2021 – Board calls 2021 Bond Election
The Board calls a Bond Election for November 2021. The scope of projects include $5,045,000 for renovation to Carl Schurz to become the future home of the School of Choice, Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP), and the Gateway Program. No definite plans were made for repurposing Seele, but there were talks of using it for other district facilities or selling the property. At this time, no money was allocated for Seele renovations.
August 2021 – Groundbreaking for Elementary #10
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for Elementary #10 that would be the new Carl Schurz-Seele Replacement Campus.
November 2021 – Voters approve 2021 Bond Program
Taxpayers approved two of the three propositions listed under the 2021 Bond that went before voters on November 2. These two propositions totaled $327.9 million in projects to address growth, aging facilities, athletic upgrades (excluding stadiums) and technology. This election drew an estimated 61 percent in favor and 39 percent against the bond proposition. A total of 3,204 voters were in favor of the bond and 2,028 against.
Winter 2021 – District receives facilities and demographic report
In the winter of 2021, NBISD contracted with an outside company to complete a facilities study of Carl Schurz and Seele elementaries to gauge their life expectancies as well as a demographic report of the community that were each conducted by a third party. The facilities report provided recommendations on what improvements could be made to each facility and an estimated cost. The demographic report provided NBISD with a glimpse into the next 10 years of our student population growth.
After the results from both studies were received, Dr. Smith and the Board began to re-examine projects including the new elementary school. The purpose of studying this project was a result of the rapidly increasing student population growth on the east side of our district, specifically in the Klein Road and Voss Farms zones. At this time, the demographer’s report projected both of these campuses to be over capacity (even with the addition of eight classrooms at both Klein Road and Voss Farms as part of the 2021 bond).
February 2022 – Stop-work order issued for Carl Schurz-Seele project
In February 2022, Dr. Smith recommended that the Board issue a stop-work order on the new elementary school. This was done to allow the district more time to review all of the data . This stop-work order was issued after the demolition of the Ninth Grade Center and before any construction started on the new elementary.
“We certainly want to be a district that does what we say we will do; however, in a fast-growth community, we also have to be mindful of the adjusting patterns and rate of growth that evolves,” Dr. Smith said in communications sent out to stakeholders. “Our whole intent is to ensure we are making well-thought-out facility decisions that are in the absolute best interest of building capacities, life expectancy, and your tax dollars.”
May 2022 – Change Order issued for Elementary #10
Due to enrollment growth on the East side of our district, Dr. Smith recommended that the money initially slated for the Seele and Carl Schurz replacement campus ($29 million) be used instead for an elementary school located in the Legend Point subdivision. The board voted to approve these recommendations at the May 2022 regular board meeting. Dr. Smith then addressed community stakeholders with this video message.
At this time, Dr. Smith also proposed up to $25M from the Fund Balance be used to renovate Carl Schurz and Seele, since the replacement campus would no longer be built. That total was ultimately lowered to $14M to renovate only Carl Schurz after further assessment. The $5M included in the 2021 Bond that was originally slated for Carl Schurz renovations was recommended by the Superintendent to be reallocated to renovate Seele instead. He informed the board that both schools had more life in them and that it would be a cost savings to renovate both Carl Schurz and Seele rather than replace them.
March 2023 – Smith resigns
Dr. Smith resigned in March 2023 before any funds had been expended for construction of the Carl Schurz and Seele renovation projects.
May 2023 – NBISD hires Arterbury, viable options being weighed
In May 2023, the Board of Trustees announced the hiring of Dr. Laurelyn Arterbury. Under Dr. Arterbury’s superintendency, the district has prioritized facilities decisions regarding Carl Schurz and Seele as well as all other NBISD campuses. Dr. Arterbury and the Board are looking into all viable options for all of our aging facilities.
Summer 2023 – Construction begins on Legend Point Elementary
Construction has started on Legend Point Elementary, and the school is projected to open its doors to students in August of 2025.
Fall 2023 – Bond Planning Committee created
A committee of 80 community members and 20 staff members was formed and met for nearly 3 months to formulate a recommendation for a future bond program. The committee reviewed facility data, demographic data and met with representatives from each department to discuss facility, safety, transportation and technology needs. View the committee’s recommendations to the Board, presented during the December regular monthly meeting.
Wrapping it up
While the previous administration had first planned to build a Seele and Carl Schurz replacement campus and ultimately ended up shifting gears to renovate Carl Schurz and Seele instead, the current administration is now looking into all viable solutions. Many reasonable options are being evaluated in the best interest of the students, community and taxpayer funds.
At the December board meeting, the demographer gave their Fall 2023 report, and the Bond Planning Committee presented their recommendations to the Board as well. This information will be used in conjunction with other sources to guide future facilities decisions regarding Seele and Carl Schurz.
Dr. Arterbury, her administrative team, and the Board are currently researching potential solutions and are listening to feedback from the community. Moving forward, Dr. Arterbury’s goal is to balance the needs of the district with the values of our community.
“I want to assure you that careful and thoughtful consideration is going into the decisions surrounding potential Seele and Carl Schurz projects,” said Dr. Arterbury. “It is our top priority to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Community invited to get involved
Those who wish to be more involved and informed about the decisions to come regarding all NBISD campuses are welcome to attend NBISD board meetings where these discussions take place.
We have several important discussions and decisions that will be featured on upcoming board agendas. We invite all stakeholders to get involved through participation at Board meetings, to consider joining the Long Range Planning Committee and, of course, to stay informed on the decisions being made through our communications channels.