Q&A with Dr. Eric Cederstrom: SISD superintendent talks $75 bond propositions on the ballot in May.

Updated: Mar 21


Dr. Eric Cederstrom

By SARA VANDEN BERGE


I sat down with Stephenville ISD’s new superintendent Dr. Eric Cederstrom at his office last week to talk about the questions surrounding the $75 million bond proposal that will be presented to voters in May.


Dr. Cederstrom has been the superintendent since Jan. 3 and first learned about the possibility of another bond proposal during the hiring process.

Board members voted to send the bond package, which includes two propositions, to voters in May.


Proposition A includes a $50 million football/soccer stadium and Proposition B includes building and equipping a multi-purpose indoor facility, construction of up to eight tennis courts and the replacement and/or upgrading of seating capacity and press box at the baseball field at a cost of no more than $25 million.


Each proposition will be voted on separately.

Q. Stephenville ISD’s last bond was passed in 2018. Why is the board asking voters to pass another one so soon? And when will construction/renovations from the 2018 bond be complete?


A. Construction from the 2018 Bond is nearly complete. All the projects lack are some punch list items and final clean up.


Why now? Well, the reality is that projects proposed in the 2022 Bond Election serve different purposes than those in the 2018 or the 2012 bonds.


The bond previously addressed aging facilities as well as for growing programs such as ag mechanics and softball.


The 2022 bond addresses additional facility components that allow for student participation growth and associated facilities such as tennis, football, baseball and band.

Q. Tarleton State University has had a long-standing agreement with SISD to allow the Yellow Jackets to play home football games at Memorial Stadium. What about that contract has changed?


A. The contract ends on July 31, 2025. Tarleton has been a gracious partner for many years with Stephenville ISD athletics. I can’t speak directly as to the process behind Tarleton’s decision, but I can say that SISD has to prepare for when that contract ends.

Q. Explain the need for tennis courts, baseball stands and an indoor facility.


A. The SISD tennis team currently practices on four courts at Stephenville City Park.


The time traveling to and from that facility, along with the limited number of students able to practice at one time minimizes student participation.


The evolution of the baseball field over the years to match the participation and success has been incremental. The last addition was an all-turf field; the next component proposed will allow additional fan support and expand the stands to match similar facilities in the district.


Finally, the multi-purpose facility would allow for year-round usage and participation by students regardless of weather. The proposed facility would be shared and would host everything from marching band practice to live football practice.


Additionally, it would be designed to host multiple sports and/or extracurricular activities at the same time to maximize usage.

Q. Where will these facilities be located and is Lem Brock field a viable place to build a football stadium?


A. The football stadium is being proposed to be located on district-owned land across from Henderson Junior High.


Lem Brock could also be considered, but expansion to hold the fan base would require almost all of the same facility components as a new stadium.


Expansion at Lem Brock would also impact the existing practice fields located at the junior high.


The proposed location for the multi-purpose facility is between the high school gym and the transportation facility entrance on Overhill.


Tennis would have a planned location on district-owned land near the baseball and softball fields.

Q. What are some of the specifics/amenities included in the plans for a new stadium?


A. The specifics of the stadium would be roughly 5,000 seats on the home side, including up to 2,000 of those with chairbacks and 2,500 visitor seats.


The inclusion of multiple groups such as coaches, players, trainers, fans and the administration to provide input into the final design is extremely important.


At this point, like the previous bond components, we have identified the general project specifications but the final design and architectural process on finishes will develop over the course of the next year.


We will take the most important of what we see in other stadiums to meet the needs of our district and fans.

Q. From a financial standpoint, why is now the time to build these facilities?


A. The growth in rooftops and business in Stephenville is not the reason for the bond proposals, but it does increase the overall tax base within the district.


An overall rise in property value does limit the impact on any individual taxpayer.

Q. What kind of feedback on the bond are you getting from community members?


A. I have received feedback ranging from, “This should have happened 20 years ago” to “It will never pass” and many comments in between.


The truth of the matter is that each of us requires enough information to find a level of comfort in making a decision of this magnitude.


I would encourage any of your readers to check out the bond section on the Stephenville ISD website for more specifics to aide in their decision-making process.

Q. What would you say to those who are reluctant to vote in favor of these bond proposals?


As superintendent, I can only present information regarding the bond election.


I am just one vote on Election Day like everyone else, but I would encourage every eligible voter to vote so that all voices are heard.


It is a wonderful thing to be an American and having the right to choose our future. Not every person has that opportunity.