Trustees met in executive session to consider routine personnel items. They later approved unanimously (7-0) routine personnel items when the Board returned to open session.
Reports and Discussions
Trustees heard two separate reports on the progress of projects related to the $898.4 million 2017 bond program. These included discussion of the construction document phase for Cedar Brook Elementary School additions and renovations and design development phase related to replacement of Hunters Creek Elementary School.
Cedar Brook Elementary School additions and renovations project
Associate Superintendent of Operations Travis Stanford opened this discussion by welcoming Huckabee Architects principal Timothy Barnes, who provided a project update. Cedar Brook’s goal is to bring the campus up to current district standards and be upgraded to function as an elementary school for the next 20 years.
The campus Project Advisory Team (PAT) met six times between January and May 2019. PAT represents a select group of parents, area residents, school staff, district personnel and Bond Committee liaison. Team meetings and visioning sessions focused on design goals and higher priorities. As a result, Cedar Brook will soon gain a building addition with six new classrooms, new science lab, and two music rooms. The existing building’s interior will also be renovated, with key redesigns scheduled for the main entry, library and classroom collaboration areas. A new faculty/staff parking area is planned, and mechanical systems will be upgraded.
Project construction is scheduled to begin in October and will be conducted in phased project pieces through August 2021 to limit school year disruptions. Students and staff will remain on campus. Satterfield & Pontikes will lead work under a Construction Manager@Risk contract.
Cedar Brook Elementary School Additions and Renovations Project
Hunters Creek Elementary School replacement project
For this Board report and discussion, Associate Superintendent of Operations Travis Stanford welcomed Pfluger Architects principal Michelle Dudley. Hunters Creek Elementary represents the first of nine SBISD elementary schools that will be rebuilt under the successful 2017 Bond.
The Project Advisory Team (PAT) met eight times and during its meetings developed multiple building design options, including exterior elevations, the main entry and courtyard. The PAT and architects were sensitive to several campus and community issues, including requests to maximize green space while preserving trees and playing fields. The new school is set back. It uses wooden elements to “warm up” the front elevation featuring an overhang roof, and the new gym has an expansion option for large events. Among points of interest, the new Hunters Creek will include an outdoor teacher lounge. The parent drive will discharge onto Beinhorn.
Under current plans, Hunters Creek students and staff will relocate this January to the South Transition Campus during rebuilding. Construction is scheduled to begin next April. The new school is scheduled to open in August 2021. Project general contractor is Brookstone.
Design Development for Hunters Creek Elementary Replacement Project
Attorney David Thompson with the firm of Thompson and Horton, LLP, presented a detailed overview on public education and school funding reform to Trustees based on known public results of the recently held 86th session of the Texas Legislature.
During his hour-long presentation and discussion, Thompson talked about key provisions of House Bill 3, the Legislature’s consequential funding and educational reform bill. This $11.5 billion measure breaks down into three large spending areas: approximately $4.5 billion for school-based reforms; about $5 billion in property tax relief; and about $2 billion dedicated toward increased pay and compensation for teachers and other campus-based employees.
Thompson began his remarks by saying he is a believer in the often-heard saying, “Elections have consequences,” although he believes that public education remains a real nonpartisan issue. All children need a publicly supported, quality education.
“We obviously saw in 2018 some very significant Legislative changes,” said Thompson, who has closely watched shifts in voting patterns for two decades. “I do not view support for education as either a Republican or Democratic issue. We have great supporters in both parties, but I do believe that when we have competitive elections and education is central to the conversation, it tends to result in some productive work during the [Legislative] session.”
“I do think that part of the accomplishments in the 86th Legislative Session were a result of the educators and parents being actively involved in the elections in 2018. There’s a lesson there: Keep it up. Again, education should be a nonpartisan issue, but it needs to remain one of the central issues that our elected officials talk about, or deal with, when they come together [in Austin every two years],” Thompson also said.
Thompson addressed many topics in his remarks. A few of his highlights included a “significant increase” in the state’s basic allotment, or funding rates, for public school students; an equally significant reduction in the recapture, or “Robin Hood,” taxing scheme that impacted so many local homeowners; and a Legislative commitment to raise salaries for teachers and employees in many other school-based positions.
He also detailed a number of new requirements, ranging from districts’ full-day prekindergarten offerings (SBISD has provided this option for many years) to new district funding related to how well high school students meet college, career and military readiness standards.
Although the Legislature’s action on education and school funding in the past session is historic, Thompson noted that many others contend that the new legislation is not supported currently as a long-term solution to ongoing Texas school funding needs.
He praised the commitment of many to speak up for students and school needs, one legislative session after another. “Representatives from SBISD are a regular presence in the state’s capital [Austin]. Not only SBISD Trustees and staff, but members of your community. And it really does make a difference,” Thompson said.