San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 26th, 2011
Trustees make trim from high school renovation


by SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

San Marcos CISD trustees decreased the cost of a multi-million dollar construction and renovation project at San Marcos High School this week by nearly $250,000.

The project involves 1,552 square feet of renovations to create a new engineering lab at San Marcos High School, as well as the construction of a 16,600-square-foot career and technology education building and a 2,100-square-foot greenhouse just east of the high school.

Trustees on Monday unanimously approved Pfluger Associates Architects’ schematic design for the project. Construction of the career and technology education building is scheduled to begin by August and be concluded by the end of May or early June 2012, in time for the fall 2012-2013 school year. The greenhouse will be a prefabricated building that can be built fairly quickly.

Pfluger Associates presented trustees with low, medium, and high project budget estimates. The low estimated budget is $3,697,600, the medium is $4,429,926, and the high budget is $5,162,253. None of these estimates include the aforementioned $250,000 in savings.

Trustees achieved the $250,000 in savings by deciding to not renovate 2,467 square feet for a multi-purpose meeting and testing room. In the last two months, district administrators, architects, and teachers discussed the matter and concluded that the renovations are not immediately needed.

Trustees had voted unanimously in November to increase the scope of the project by an estimated $1.7 million to add 5,700 square feet of horticulture and culinary arts-related facilities, and 4,020 square feet of renovations.

The construction and renovation project is intended to enhance the upcoming academy program and provide facilities for courses related to building trades, vocational agriculture, culinary arts, and horticulture.

The project also is intended to 1) relocate programs from Goodnight Middle School to the high school to eliminate loss of instructional time transporting students, and 2) accommodate student interest in culinary classes.

Brad Pfluger of Pfluger Associates said the career and technology education building’s lifespan can be extended beyond 50 years with extensive renovations, though he said it may be cheaper by then to build anew.

“Our goal is not to make it cheap, our goal is to make it durable, but try to keep the costs down,” Pfluger said. “That’s what every question we ask is based on — how do we make it durable, and how do we make it as inexpensive as possible?”

The civil engineer for the project is Loomis Partners, the structural engineer is Frank Lam & Associates, Inc., the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer is Kent Consulting Engineers, L.P., and the roofing consultant is Austech Roof Consultants, Inc.

The district would fund the construction and renovation project with remaining bond funds, though it’s likely that the district also will dip into its reserve funds. Pfluger’s low estimate of $3.7 million exceeds the $2.5 million remaining in bond funds. Among the approximately $22.8 million in district reserve funds, trustees have designated $15 million for construction purposes.

Pfluger said his company will present trustees next month with a proposal for integrating renewable energy and water collection systems in the new buildings. Pfluger said he will look for grants that may help fund the systems. Pfluger said installing “green” technology will afford students an opportunity to gain valuable experience in maintaining and operating such systems.

Trustees also are considering whether to build a new Phoenix Learning Center, renovate the existing one, or do a little of both. A trustee in October alluded to the possible cost of a new Phoenix campus: $12 million.

In October, trustees authorized $1,509,525 in other improvements to nine campuses.

Last fall, trustees began negotiations to acquire the old McCoy’s Corporation headquarters for use as an administrative center. The company’s initial asking price for the property was $2.775 million. Trustees have taken no further action on the matter since the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) expressed its opposition to the property purchase. At the trustees meeting this week, TSTA San Marcos Chapter President Susan Seaton reiterated her organization’s support for the career and technology education renovation and construction project.

San Marcos High School Principal Michelle Darling told trustees that the career academy program is scheduled for launch in the 2011-2012 school year. The career and technology education project is intended to enhance the future Academy of Applied Sciences and the Academy of Health and Human Services. Included in those academies are the subject areas of agriculture, food, hospitality, tourism, and natural resources.

Full implementation of career academies will involve dividing the approximately 2,100 high school students into groups devoted to general fields of study, namely:

• Applied Sciences, to include agriculture, automotive, construction, military and engineering fields.
• Arts and Communication, to include fine arts, communication and technology fields.
• Health and Human Services, to include health care, hospitality and human services fields.
• Business and Law, to include marketing, law, and business fields.

Once the new career and technology education facility is built, the existing culinary arts space at the high school will be used for intro-level culinary courses and the “Principles of Human Services” course for grades nine and ten. The old culinary arts space consists of small workstations, and the new facility will be setup in a restaurant-style, commercial format.

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2 thoughts on “Trustees make trim from high school renovation

  1. This sounds like a worthwhile project – far better than a new admin building.

    I am curious to hear whether there is a plan/strategy for a successful program, to go with this. “…enhance the upcoming academy program and provide facilities for courses related to building trades, vocational agriculture, culinary arts, and horticulture” sounds great, but it is kind of vague. Are there specific (measurable) goals related to graduating some of our kids with brighter futures, and plans to go with those goals?

    The facilities could be great assets, but only if they are part of a larger plan to improve the career prospects for some of our students.

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