HCISD considers facility, program improvements

By Paige Lambert

Growth and innovation are constantly part of residents’ lives in Central Texas. Businesses are popping up along the Interstate 35 corridor, people are steadily moving to the area and school districts are growing faster than ever.

The Hays CISD School Board addressed many of these issues at its March 23 workshop meeting, reviewing items they will take action on during the March 30 business meeting.

Much time was spent on projects that will be funded by what remains of the $59.1 million bond approved by voters in May 2014. It was proposed that a guaranteed maximum price of $35 million be used for the construction of a sixth middle school. 

Bid night for the project, March 12, went well, according to deputy superintendent Carter Scherff. He said they found several bidders of all trades.  

“We worked hard on getting coverage and bids, and received excellent coverage across the board,” he said. “I’m pleased with this price.”

Barton, Dahlstrom and Wallace middle schools were also highlighted for future renovations. Designs were submitted to add secure entry pathways.

The proposed entryway would require individuals to enter the office before accessing the rest of the building. Panic doors would be installed, Scherff said, that would allow access from the building but remain locked from the outside.

“This is a long time coming,” Trustee Merideth Keller said. “This is a good deal for our families that have real concerns about their kids’ safety here.”

The 2014 bond will be used to fund the project. If approved the projects would be completed by the end of this summer, according to Scherff.  

Facilities weren’t the only focus on expansion and improvements. 

Staff is looking into expanding the Career and Technology Education (CTE) programming for Lehman High School. 

The 2014 bond included adding welding and another career pathway to the program, CTE director Suzi Mitchell said. A survey was created to see what industries students and others wanted in the program. 

CTE research found that there are more job opportunities in construction sciences and automotive technology than other industries students were interested in, such as multimedia, she said.

The proposal recommended adding a construction sciences pathway, as it was the most desired and can have multiple courses housed in one facility, Mitchell said.

Christie Rickert, director of instructional technologies, said there is a push to not only put iPads in each classroom but also on training teachers how to use the tablet in teaching.

The majority of staff are already Apple users and 70 to 80 percent of the network is also Apple, Rickert said. The tablets will be distributed in April and May.

“So there’s less of a learning curve,” Rickert said. “Once everyone has their iPads and knows the basics. They will go through digital seminars to learn how to use it in teaching.”

Rickert said another factor to use tablets in the classroom is the increase of soft skills, such as communication.

“These are the skills employers are looking for,” Rickert said. “These are the types of things that emerge when you integrate and become proficient in technology.”

These proposals and others including instructional materials, future right-of-ways near campuses and reviews of personnel will be addressed and acted upon at the March 30 meeting.

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