Bond Oversight Committee members gathered Nov. 11 in a socially distanced setting to hear progress updates on timely topics including finance, technology, and planning and construction.
In November 2017, voters in Spring Branch ISD approved a $898.4 million bond referendum by a 4 to 1 margin.
During that same month, the SBISD Board of Trustees approved a charge for the formation of a community-led Bond Oversight Committee (BOC) to ensure that projects remain faithful to the voter-approved scope of bond work, and meet overall quality standards, on-time completion, and budget expectations.
The BOC’s Nov. 11 meeting was held in advance of the group’s annual report to Trustees held during its regular monthly meeting on Nov. 16.
Financial Services Director David Bender explained expenditures, interest earned, and 2017 Bond sales. From June 2018 through this month, SBISD has issued $570 million in bonds at highly favorable rates, including $169 million issued in 2020 at an interest rate of 1.82 percent.
SBISD’s bond program carries high-quality ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poors, and top ratings with the Texas PSF (Permanent School Fund) guarantee.
Bond Projects Technology Manager Stephen Johnston detailed work in four areas. In student technology, the district has deployed 12,676 devices this school year.
In addition, SBISD will participate in a collaboration between the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Region 4 called Operation Connectivity focused on narrowing a digital divide among students over personal and home-use technology. TEA and Harris County will pay the full cost of student issued devices under this program.
This fall, the program has delivered 5,000 hotspots to secondary and elementary campuses and 9,300 iPads to elementary campuses. By Dec. 30, SBISD will issue 7,500 Chromebooks to its elementary schools. Also deployed are approximately 15,500 devices for secondary students.
Bond funds will help replace older, out-of-warranty devices for teachers and staff members. So far, about 3,000 computers have been replaced. Secondary updates are a priority to support virtual learning and related instructional demands.
Separately, SBISD’s technology services division is actively moving forward on key safety and security, and infrastructure projects. These include a LTE pilot network project and deployment of Wi-Fi enabled buses at five elementary schools and 10 community partner locations.
Inside classrooms, bond funds will help update and replace instructional teaching devices like Activpanels and Activboards.
Planning and Construction
Associate Superintendent for Operations Travis Stanford detailed progress on an estimated $53 million in renovation and construction work from Pre-K centers to high schools.
In addition, the Bunker Hill Elementary School replacement project was described in detail by a representative from the architectural firm Stantec. Board of Trustees members are expected to review for approval a proposed construction contract on Monday during its regular meeting.
Pre-K Centers: Tiger Trail and Wildcat Way Schools for Early Learning
- New chillers and piping are now installed at four Pre-K centers; Courtyard lighting installed
- Buffalo Creek Elementary renovation project includes major interior and exterior renovations, with updated lighting, paint, wall graphics and new clerestory windows in building collaboration areas; library renovated
- Treasure Forest Elementary renovations has similar renovations, with a new main lobby, new library with functioning skylight, new collaboration areas
- Bunker Hill Elementary is one of several full school replacement projects. The new two-story school building will be built on site, with students and teachers remaining in the current building. Construction is scheduled to begin the first part of 2021 pending Board approval; the new building is scheduled to open in August 2022.
- Cedar Brook Elementary work is complete on a new library with skylights and new collaboration area; a six-classroom music room and science lab addition is included.
- Hunters Creek Elementary, a full school replacement project, is showing exterior and interior building progress with visible onsite construction; a planned August 2021 opening remains on track.
- Nottingham Elementary is the third of nine elementary school rebuilding projects under the 2017 Bond; the new school will be built adjacent to the existing building with students and staff remaining on site; Project Advisory Team (PAT) process for community design input begins soon.
“I can’t tell you how impressive it’s going to be,” Associate Superintendent Stanford told BOC members as he described the 3-story structure going up now at Landrum Middle School. “We’re excited about what this means for Landrum Middle School and what’s to come.” The project reflects the first rebuild of a middle school in SBISD. Brick walls are going up on classrooms; courtyards are becoming visible; a two-story skybridge connects buildings.
- Spring Forest Middle renovations include a new front entrance iron gate, a new secure vestibule, and new classroom doors and hardware.
- Memorial High School work includes several highly visible elements: steel erected on campus recently for a 4-story classroom addition; a completed tennis complex and playing courts; and a new turf field.
- Northbrook High School renovations are underway and include extensive progress on water detention and preparation for a new front entry and an 18-classroom addition.
- Spring Woods High School began the school year with a renovated student cafeteria featuring new graphics, terrazzo flooring and ductwork; extensive library renovations are underway and include a “learning stairs” feature.
- Exterior renovations are highly visible at Stratford High: The old auditorium has been demolished and ground work prepared for a new one; roofing and mechanical work planned will lead to campus closing this summer.
Read more about the Bond Oversight Committee report.
- Bond 2017