The journey toward a new Hays CISD high school moved forward after the Hays CISD board of trustees approved new design documents for a potential third campus.
On Monday, the board voted 7-0 to approve the new documents upon the recommendation of Superintendent Michael McKie.
Trustees approved the schematic layout of the proposed new high school last September. The newly approved documents were the product of further meetings between administration, architects and staff about various finishes and furniture for the potential school.
Dist. 4 Trustee Merideth Keller was initially hesitant to approve the documents without input from the public. She feared it may appear to her constituents that the board was making decisions without first hearing their opinions, and that it may affect the upcoming May 2017 bond election.
“I don’t want it to seem like we don’t care what people have to say,” Keller said. “I just want to be cognizant that these buildings that we’re talking about belong to our community.”
However, McKie and other district representatives assured Keller that the design documents consist only of finishing touches inside the proposed school that are up to district standards for education.
Carter Scherff, Hays CISD chief operations officer, said approving the design documents simply allows the architects and engineers to proceed with the project so they can stay on track to finish by July 2019, in time for the school year.
Scherff said if any of the board’s constituents come forward with feedback about the design documents, the project’s team could still change the documents accordingly in the future.
“If, in a community forum, some issue arises, some desire to change something, I think we would be more than happy to go ahead – I mean that’s what forums are for are to inform the process, inform the project, to make the necessary changes or whatever it is,” said Tom Oehler, a representative with Stantec, a company involved with the project.
Oehler added the district “benchmarked this facility against Hays High.”
He said they wanted to ensure there’s “equality across the district of not just finishes and care, but in terms of spaces and the opportunities we can provide to students.”
After learning changes can be made to the documents if needed, Keller said she was comfortable voting in support of the documents to avoid delaying the projected completion date of the proposed high school.
“The first portion of your comments – that’s was what I was looking for,” she said. “I don’t understand that my thought of wanting to wait until after the public forums creates a problem on the back end, but you came to the table and said, ‘yeah, I know you represent the community and need to listen to them, we can all work together on that.’”
Oehler explained that it’s important to approve these documents before the May 2017 bond is voted on, if the district wants to meet its target completion date and have time to move furniture and equipment into the school in time for fall 2019.
“This is an outstanding learning center,” he said. “We want to accommodate you and we want it to be right.”