Paradise High School
PARADISE –– A North Texas school district could be fined for environmental violations if it doesn’t find the money to fix the problems after voters rejected a bond package.
Unlike most school districts, Paradise Independent School District in Wise County must treat its own sewage. The plant sits in the parking lot across from the football field and consists of two metal 15,000-gallon tanks.
One of those was installed in the 1980s while the other dates back to the 90s. The superintendent says the student population has nearly doubled since the system was installed.
"We average 85 percent capacity," said Superintendent Monty Chapman. He said the volume exceeds that on some days when there are big events at the schools. Chapman is trying to find the money to fix or replace the system before the district gets hit with fines for discharging polluted water.
State records show 11 violation notices from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since 2008. There's also a pending enforcement action from an investigation in August. Almost all the violations were self reported and ranged from minor to moderate.
Chapman says they involved chlorine levels.
"We have an urgency because we need to stay within our permit limits," Chapman said.
The treated water runs into a creek in a pasture near baseball fields.
Earlier this month, voters rejected a $3.25 million bond package designed mainly for water treatment. The money also would have paid for three new buses and building improvements.
Chapman says ideally the district would not only replace the old treatment plant, but move it; get it out of the parking lot, away from the football field.
But that could cost $2.25 million. And Paradise ISD doesn't have near that kind of money.
"We have reduced all our budgets," Chapman said.
He said state education cuts took nearly 10 percent of the district's budget two years ago, and only 10 percent of that amount was restored. So the school district is looking for state grants or partnerships with the city to solve the water treatment problem.
In the meantime, he says a short-term solution could cost about $100,000.