Kilgore, TX — After a year and a half of considering land that might be a good fit for two new schools in Kilgore ISD, Superintendent Jody Clements is thankful an end is in sight.
The district’s proposed purchase of a 103-acre portion of land owned by Brant Laird is the beginning for construction of an elementary and middle school.
Decisions remain on a final design plan and a construction firm, among others.
The board’s unanimous approval to offer $1.75 million for the property where an old drive-in theater was on U.S. 259 South also authorized the superintendent to negotiate other points with Laird.
“He reserves the mineral and timber rights. What we’re negotiating on is water rights,” Clements said. “We don’t care about the timber or mineral rights.” The district is also discussing naming rights with Laird.
“I’m hoping by the end of the week we’ll have an agreement. I’ve exchanged emails with him and basically asked, ‘How bad do you want to name it?’ ”
The current facility attended by sixth through eighth-graders is named Maude Laird Middle School, so named because the family donated the land back in the late 1970s when the district reorganized the way it grouped students, abandoning their junior high-high school combination.
The superintendent is not certain what Laird wants to name the middle school. “His dad’s name was Mack Laird, so it’d still be MLMS,” Clements said, if the property owner honors his father in the naming opportunity.
Name dropping in the community revealed some residents’ belief the property purchase was a wrap before it began.
“We’ve had some comments made. ‘Y’all aren’t really looking for land. It’s the good old boy system; it’s just the Lairds or whatever,’ ” the superintendent said. “People would call and tell us ‘I’ve got some land you can build a school on.’
“I’d get out there and it’d have a lot of swampland on it …There’s probably 10 or 12 properties we wrote letters to asking if they wanted to sell land. I’d ask if we could look at it and they’d let me.”
Within the past few months, trustees narrowed their search to three properties: the piece on which they are negotiating on U.S. 259 South, another tract also on the south side of Kilgore (near the Y at the loop and U.S. 259), as well as land at FM 2276 and Stone Road.
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