Midlothian ISD eyes stadium expansion

Preliminary plans to add seating, offices, facilities revealed at board meeting

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
An architectural rendering of a building that is proposed to be built at MISD Multipurpose Stadium. The building would house offices and the MISD Athletics Hall of Honor.

Seating at MISD Multipurpose Stadium may soon be expanded, as Midlothian ISD trustees reviewed plans for construction projects during last Monday’s regular monthly board meeting.

Two separate projects are being proposed for the 8,000-seat stadium, MISD director of architecture and facilities Rola Fadel told trustees. These additions would be funded with the remaining proceeds from a voter-approved 2016 bond referendum, provided that the incoming bids do not exceed the bond balance.

Architectural plans submitted by the Orcutt Winslow firm from Irving call for a new building to be built adjacent to the locker room area that would house offices as well as a Hall of Honor room that would have a maximum capacity of 150. Also, renovations to the existing press box and minor repairs to the stadium itself would take place. The new building would add a new locker room for female officials, and a vault would be installed for ticketing.

The interior floor plan of a building that is proposed to be built at MISD Multipurpose Stadium. The building would house offices and the MISD Athletics Hall of Honor.

Additional bleachers at the stadium will also be needed, Fadel said. The area where the band and drill teams sit are nearing capacity and the district is having to use the visitors’ side for overflow. Fadel proposed adding bleachers to the grassy areas on either side of the seating, which would add approximately 700 total seats.

Any additional seats would also require an upgrade to restroom facilities to meet city code, Fadel said.

A final vote to approve the projects would take place in December.

All board members were present with the exception of trustee Richard Pena, who continues to recover from an extended case of COVID-19.

Tax rate finalized

The MISD board of trustees approved the new ad valorem tax rate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The new rate, $1.352 per $100 valuation, is a reduction of 2.78 cents from the current rate, and a massive drop from the $1.54 rate that was effect for most of the last decade until three years ago, assistant superintendent for finance Jim Norris said.

The maintenance and operations portion of the rate will be 87.872 cents and the interest and sinking rate will be 47.328 cents.

Norris told the board that the Texas Legislature did not act to provide funds for tax compression this year, which would have allowed school districts to lower their rates even further. However, Norris added that money has been allocated for the next two school years.

The board also approved a plan to pay off some Series 2017-B bond indebtedness early. Norris said the move will save the district about $7.5 million in future interest costs. Since 2010, Norris added, the district has saved a total of more than $111 million by repaying bonds early.

Other items

• New members of the MISD Athletics Hall of Honor were introduced. They include Lexi Ball (powerlifting), Joyce Curtis (track), Ryan Mentzel (football and baseball), the 1966 boys’ track and field team, the 1980-1988 boys’ cross country teams, coach Austin Guest (soccer), and Jim Norris (athletic program supporter). The individuals and teams inducted will be honored during a special event and dinner on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Heritage High School.

• The board recognized Advanced Placement Scholars, Destination Imagination middle school global finalists from MISD, and Midlothian Education Foundation/Dolores McClatchey Scholarship winners. The board also recognized National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15.

• Public speakers continued to address the board on conservative topics, including one speaker who cited several biblical passages; one speaker who advocated abstinence in sex education; and one speaker, a student, who claimed to be discriminated against because he wore a baseball cap while other students wore high heels and fishnet stockings.

• The approved consent agenda included previous meeting minutes, budget amendments, acceptance of gift and/or donations, the annual investment report, the district student code of conduct for the 2021-2022 school year, a utility easement to provide electrical service to Coleman Elementary, and the creation of a new position of Coordinator of Testing and Accountability.

• MISD demographer Brent Alexander presented the quarterly demographic and enrollment report. Alexander said housing starts hit a new record in the Dallas-Fort Worth market in the second quarter of 2021, largely driven by record-low mortgage rates. Within MISD boundaries, there were nearly 16,400 new residential lots either in process or planned as of the end of June. MISD enrollment numbers, which dipped in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has bounced back strongly and Alexander said the district is almost back on track to match pre-pandemic growth projections.

• Trustees approved selection of the Abernathy, Eichelbaum and Walsh law firms as the three finalists to serve as legal counsel out of eight firms to submit applications. The vote was 4-0 with trustees Matt Sanders and Bobby Soto abstaining.

• The board approved the Mansfield Performing Arts Center as the venue for the Class of 2022 graduation commencements for both high schools on May 29. MISD Multipurpose Stadium would be available as a backup.

• The board voted to allocate its 995 votes among John Knight, Diana Muckleroy and Ken Marks for nomination for the Ellis County Appraisal District board of directors election. The final vote will be taken in November.

• Five new Student Health Advisory Council members were approved for 2021-2022: Dr. Katherine Pederson, Teana Drury, Emily Forbes, Dr. Laura Hunt and Rachel Hallmark.

• A resolution was adopted that gives the SHAC power to make recommendations for human sexuality curriculum. MISD student services administrator Dr. Al Hemmle said the curriculum is abstinence-based and that parents will have to consent to their students receiving instruction.

• Following an executive session, the board declared its intent to prepare a motion for a 10-day paid leave for employees who test positive for COVID-19, retroactive to July 1, for approval next month. Earlier in the meeting, MISD executive director of human resource services Dr. Shorr Heathcote reported there were 88 active cases of COVID in the district, with the number remaining flat for the most part as recoveries offset new cases. Testing centers will soon be set up at the MILE and at MISD Multipurpose Stadium.