LEANDER, Texas - 19-year-old Jacob Oehler came by his old school Tuesday to see those who turned his life around. "It definitely saved me from going down a really dark path of like not knowing what to do with myself," said Jacob Oehler.
Jacob enlisted in the Navy after graduating in 2020 from Leander ISD's New Hope High School. The visit is something of a victory lap before heading to his assignment in the northwest.
"It feels like when in Top Gun, when they flew by the radio tower, that's what it feels like," said Jacob Oehler. Jacob says he remembers when he first saw the temporary buildings that make up the district's alternative school.
"I drove over here and I was like, well, it's really small and it looks like I couldn't even tell the school. At first, I almost drove past it because I couldn't tell the school, but. The outside may have been rough around the edges, but the inside is really well, you know," said Jacob Oehler.
The campus only has capacity for 125 students.
There’s a long waiting list to get into the self-paced education program.
The district wants to use bond money and land near Danielson Middle School for a new 400 student campus. The project was on the books before the pandemic hit but it comes at a time when test scores show many students statewide have fallen behind academically.
The proposed bond issue that would rebuild new hope would also make changes across the district. For example; multi-media panels, which are essentially hi-tech blackboards, would be installed in every classroom.
"The bulk of this bond is building new schools, five new schools, and taking care of our existing schools," said Corey Ryan with Leander ISD.
The bond issue, according to Ryan, is simply about addressing growth. "We have twelve thousand four hundred new students expected in the next 10 years. We continue to see one to two thousand students added every year into Leander ISD," said Ryan.
The proposal which totals just over $772 million is broken up into 3 parts.
PROP A, the largest, would fund new construction, expansions, and renovations.
PROP B buys new tech equipment.
PROP C makes improvements to performing arts centers.
"Our financial advisers run models on very, very conservative ratios that say we can afford this bond in our existing tax rate, even in these most conservative times of property values and growth," said Ryan.
For Jacob Oehler, the bond proposal is an investment in kids like him.
"Basically, I thought I had no way out until I transferred to new hope and I not only graduated. I graduated early from new hope because the curriculum was self-paced and it gave me everything I needed," said Jacob Oehler.