Board shaves plan on new elementary school

The design for a 115,000 square foot, $34 million elementary school that’s part of a $189 million propostion in the Hays CISD bond was forwarded by board trustees Monday.

By a 6-1 vote, trustees approved design documents for Elementary School (ES) 14, to be located on High Road in the eastern part of the district. Trustee Esperanza Orosco cast the lone dissenting vote, citing cost concerns.

The design, created by lead architect Claycomb Associates, Architects, is 20,000 square feet larger than Carpenter Hill Elementary and Pfluger Elementary schools, which were the last schools Hays CISD constructed.

Carter Scherff, Hays CISD deputy superintendent, said the new elementary school is built to house 900 students. Depending on any changes, the school is projected to hold 768 students when it’s projected to open its doors in September 2018.

Above is an aerial photo rendering of the proposed 14th elementary school in the district. (rendering courtesy of Hays CISD)

Bo Ledoux, vice president at Claycomb Associates, Architects, said Feb. 20 the company’s design reflected changes from the current elementary school prototype to adhere to a changing curriculum. That prototype was used for Science Hall, Camino Real, Pfluger and Carpenter Hill elementary schools.

According to Scherff, the district will use the design approved by trustees Monday for ES 15, a replacement for the Buda Elementary lower campus, which is also within the bond, and future campuses.

ES 14 will be a two-story facility that features a larger gym that can house two groups of students at the same time. The campus will also have a maker space area adjacent to the library and some classrooms added to each wing.

In addition, the campuses will have science laboratories, which are added to the Pfluger design, with area underneath to be used as outdoor learning spaces.

But board trustees eliminated several components in the design. Those included a physical properties of matter and photosynthesis learning spaces, Spanish tile roofing and finishes in the outdoor learning spaces.

See the proposed design documents here.

Scherff said Monday the district removed the items, which featured a total cost savings of roughly $28,000.

The properties of matter studio featured a Lego bricks, magnetic and Velcro wall, as well as cloud shaped artwork on the ceiling. It also featured the words rain, sleet, snow and hail spelled out. The room centered on curriculum within the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

In the outdoor learning spaces, a mural of the United States was to be painted.

Orosco said Feb. 20 she loved the idea, but was concerned that approving the studio could send the wrong message to concerned residents who have complained about excessive building costs.

Trustee Sandra Bryant said going with the studio would tell concerned community members “we didn’t hear you.”

Trustee Merideth Keller  said she supported the science labs and outdoor learning, but opposed spending “25-year bonds on a sign that says rain.”

“That seems extravagant to me,” Keller said. “I feel like I might have been led down the primrose path. These drawings are shocking to me.”

Keller also opposed the Spanish tile roof at the campus, citing the need for the district to maintain consistency for finishes. The district decided to use a metal roof for the school.

For Orosco, the high cost of the school has been a point of contention for the board, which she said they’ve worked to try and lower.

While she supported the bond, she felt the district could do “more in getting the cost down,” which is why she voted against the design. She said the district could form a committee in the future to get experts who can provide feedback to the district to bring cost down.

But she also was “disappointed” cost savings from eliminated design elements was so low.

“We need to reel in those costs and I think we can do a little better to do that,” Orosco said. 

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