After a 13-month wait, and some paring down of the overall project, construction and renovations on the Early Independent School District’s $17.5 million bond projects are under way.

At a special called meeting Thursday, EISD trustees unanimously approved the sale of the bonds necessary for the construction of a new elementary school, a new and renovated track and football stadium, extensive renovations to the primary school and high school gymnasium and renovations and additions to the high school.

“The district is borrowing $17.5 million at an interest rate of 4.71 percent,” said Jeff W. Robert, senior vice president for First Southwest Co., the investment banking service for the district. “The district qualifies for and will receive existing debt allotment funding, which will help make payments on the bonds.”

Voters approved a $21.3 million bond in May 2006, but trustees had resolved before the election that the district would not sell bonds without state assistance. According to the Spring 2006 calculations, the district would have been eligible for up to $14.7 million in state funds over the 30-year life of the bonds.

But not all of the hoped-for funding came through in 2006. Robert said, however, in its 2007 session the Texas Legislature passed and the governor has signed funding appropriations and Early ISD will be getting that funding.

“What we’re able to do — and we’ve been working at paring down the project in workshops for the last six months — is borrow the $17.5 million at the same tax implication,” said Shawn Russell, president of the school board.

“We’re done. We’re ready. We’ve gotten this funding and we’re still going to be able to make some needed improvements on our facilities.”

The major cut, Russell said, was the construction of a new competition gym in addition to the renovation of the current high school gym. But, the renovations are already starting on the gym that will include an all new maple wood floor, retractable bleachers, and motorized, retractable regulation and practice goals, new lighting fixtures and a sound system as well as a redesigned lobby with a “wall of windows” between the gym and cafetorium wall.

The gym renovation is Phase I of the project and have an estimated cost of $331,775.

Phase II is the high school renovation, a $2.8 million project, Russell said will include adding six new classrooms and three new science labs, as well as complete renovations of the cafetorium and existing corridors. Also, in that phase is the approximately $3.3 million stadium relocation and renovation.

A new elementary school for grades 3 through 5 will be built on district property near the middle school, off Sudderth Drive. Russell said once the elementary campus is complete, extensive renovations to the primary campus at the current site will begin.

“We can’t do the primary school renovations until the elementary school is finished,” Russell said. “So that’s the last project on the list.”