PHOTO: San Marcos CISD trustee Paul Mayhew listens to fellow school board member Lupe Costilla, during a discussion on Monday of a prospective new administration building. A motion to allocate $5.9 million for the project failed, 4-3.
by BRAD ROLLINS
On a 4-3 split vote, San Marcos CISD trustees on Monday rejected a motion to allocate up to $5.9 million to design and build a new central administration building on Hunter Road.
The proposed 24,000-square-foot facility would have replaced the 41-year-old central office at 501 S. LBJ Drive, scorned by school district staff as outdated, deteriorating and too small to house offices and support services that would operate more efficiently under one roof. Fort Worth-based Huckabee Architects estimates the cost of a full-scale renovation of the existing building at $2,706,410, not including the cost of leasing office space for administrators during construction.
“I’ve been on the board for 12 years and for 12 years we’ve talked about how inadequate this building is and how inefficient the organization is spread all over the place. … I think it is short-sighted of us to put money into this building,” trustee Judy Allen said during a March 30 meeting that ultimately ended with a 4-3 vote to table the discussion.
When the proposal re-emerged on Monday at the board’s regular monthly meeting, Allen was joined by trustees Kathy Hansen and Margie Villalpando in voting to authorize the use of $5,893,704 from the school district’s fund balance for testing, permits and fees ($371,488); design ($278,616); construction ($4,643,600); fixtures and furnishings ($350,000) and contingencies ($250,000).
Trustees Paul Mayhew, David Crowley, Lupe Costilla and Danny Gonzales voted against the proposal.
Mayhew said he previously supported the concept of a new, relocated administration building based on administrators’ representations that at least some of the $2.9 million received from last year’s sale of the former Lamar Annex could be applied to the new building. Instead, trustees have already committed that money to other uses including covering cost overruns on a package of new and renovated campuses approved by voters in May 2013. Consequently, Mayhew said he is skeptical that the possible sale of other school district property, including the current administration building, can be counted on as a funding source.
“Originally, I was in favor of doing this but that was back when I thought we had all that money from the sale of Lamar,” Mayhew said, adding later, “I’m concerned about spending that kind of money on a building, quite frankly. … I think there are other priorities we ought to focus on.”
As recommended by Superintendent Mark Eads, the new administration building would have been large enough to accommodate operations currently based in the LBJ Drive central administration building — the trustee boardroom and the superintendent, business, purchasing, human resources and attendance offices — as well as special education staff currently housed at Mendez Elementary and curriculum, instruction and accountability staff currently housed at Goodnight Middle School. The building would be sited on 35.5 acres the school district owns on Hunter Road, in front of a transportation and support services complex built in 2006 and next to a technology and food services building being designed now.
“I think it is important to consolidate all of our support services,” Hansen said. “And I hate to see this board not have the foresight to build the buildings we need.”Email | Print