Wayne Rotan, Glen Rose Independent School District superintendent, said last week that a proposed new 2,000-seat arena would include a Hall of Fame and that the district could attract more playoff games with the new facility.

He made the comments to a luncheon meeting of the Somervell County/Glen Rose Chamber of Commerce. The proposed new gymnasium is part of a $19.995 million bond referendum to be held on May 8 that also calls for converting the auxiliary “white gym” into a band hall, adding more pens to the existing Ag Barn facility and upgrading technology throughout the district.

If approved, the projects would be completed over the next two-and-a-half years.

The largest share of the new bond funds – more than $16.9 million – would be used to construct a multi-purpose arena with dressing rooms, laundry facilities and training and weight rooms. It also would provide handicapped access and an elevator.

Rotan showed chamber members an architect’s rendering of the new split-level facility, which would be constructed between the Glen Rose High School football and softball fields. The design calls for full seating around the basketball court.

“Enrollment has tripled since the existing gymnasium was built in 1982,” Rotan said. “Most of you that have been to basketball home games know that there’s no place to sit on the home side, which seats 500.”

Besides holding basketball games, the arena would be used for volleyball games and large group events.

“Playoff games will bring people into the community,” Rotan said. “We’ll be able to host a lot of playoff games and this facility would certainly benefit that.”

Rotan also said the district also would like to start a Glen Rose Hall of Fame for graduates who have gone on to be successful in many areas, not only athletics. It would contain memorabilia such as letter jackets, photographs and other items.

A new band hall is needed because the existing building was designed to accommodate about 65 students and the current Tiger Pride Band has 115 members, Rotan added.

“Right now if they want to practice as a group, they have to go to the auditorium,” he said. “They can’t even practice together in the band hall.”

The Ag Barn facility, located off State Highway 56 near the city dump, currently has spaces for 28 animal projects. The addition included in the bond election would add 9,360 square feet for more pens. There’s currently a waiting list for students wanting to raise animals, Rotan said.

As for technology upgrades, Rotan noted that classrooms today are very different from what they were years ago. Forget chalkboards. Classrooms today are equipped with active or “smart boards” with touch screens.

 “It’s amazing, the information that’s on these active boards and what students do with it,” Rotan said. “If we don’t keep up, we’ll be teaching them on out-of-date technology and then sending them out to the world” where they won’t be able to compete.

Rotan also explained how the bond election could be accomplished without a tax increase. He noted that over the past two years, the GRISD board of trustees has redeemed $1.155 million of outstanding bonds early, thereby reducing the current debt obligation.

The board also redeemed higher-interest bonds and re-issued them at a lower rate, saving taxpayers an expected $500,000 in interest costs over the next seven years.

That means that the portion of the school district tax rate that is used for bond indebtedness and funds for construction projects – the so-called interest and sinking tax rate – has the capacity for more bond money, Rotan said.

That also is the part of the tax monies that the district doesn’t have to give back to the state under the so-called “Robin Hood” plan that requires property-wealthy districts to equalize funding so that Texas schools generate the same amount of money per student. The money to the state comes out of the maintenance and operation, or M&O, part of the tax rate that is used to pay salaries and other day-to-day expenses.

“We send about 50 percent of every tax dollar we generate to the state,” Rotan said. “You pay Robin Hood in M&O funds. I&S has no recapture in that.”

That means that that district gets to keep all the money it generates from bond elections without any having to send any to the state under the Robin Hood plan.

Meanwhile, bond financing is at all-time lows and construction costs have dropped 11 percent over the past two years, Rotan said.

“These things together make it the right time” for a bond election, he concluded.

Anyone who lives in the school district, which includes Somervell and part of Hood County, is eligible to vote in the bond referendum. Early voting runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 26 to May 4, at the GRISD Administration Building, 1102 Stadium Drive.

Early voting extended hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m., April 29, at the Glen Rose Intermediate School campus; 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., April 30, at the Glen Rose Elementary campus; and 6 to 9 p.m., May 3 and 4, at the high school auditorium.

Election day voting will take place at Town Hall on May 8 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

For more information, contact 898-3901 or visit the bond election page at  www.grisd.net.