Decatur ISD reviews facility needs

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 26, 2018
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After analyzing a demographics report, enrollments in various extracurricular programs and looking at various course needs during a workshop Monday, Decatur ISD trustees will revisit facilities needs in early December.

Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis said trustees will be presented more data Dec. 10 to look at facility options at the high school.

“It was time well spent. We had a thorough conversation. We need to do some additional leg work,” Whitis said.

Trustees earlier this year halted talks on a classroom addition and athletic facilities improvements, while continuing work on turning a portion of the high school library into a bistro. That project with a total budget of $471,432 is currently awaiting permitting from the city.

After the cost of the bistro and other improvements, the district has $5.986 million set aside for construction projects out of its total $14.7 million in reserves. Of the total reserves, $2.8 million is restricted and another $6.9 million is unassigned. The district tries to keep three months of operating costs on hand in reserves, which would be $7.762 million.

The district would have the option of issuing maintenance tax notes to renovate existing space at the high school, if the cost of selected projects exceeded the allotted $5.986 million.

Along with the district’s architect, Claycomb, reviewing proposed projects and revisiting the demographics study from Templeton Demographics, the board was briefed by high school administrators on current class data.

“I had them present data on the new courses we added this year and the focus to where we are headed,” Whitis said. “We’ve got more to do and more to refine that, but it’s a good start to that conversation with the board. We’re looking to increase academic standards and that drives program changes and opportunities for kids. We talked a little about career tech courses. There’s a whole gambit of what we can do.”

Based on their data with course loads, co-curricular and extracurricular participation, the high school has an 85 percent efficiency rate in use of space.

“The bottom line based on high school data, increase in courses and student enrollment, we are maximizing all available space,” Whitis said. “That’s being driven by increased courses and programs. That could be higher level sections of advanced placement courses. We’ve also added several career tech courses.”

When the architects return for the Dec. 10 meeting, the district will be looking at their needs for additional classrooms.

“Next step is to define if we were to add classrooms, what would that look like in terms of programs and who would occupy all that,” Whitis said.

“We will need flexible spaces. What we’re doing today is going to look different in five years. We don’t want to build something that is going to lock us in to a particular program. We want to be smart and strategic with the type [of classrooms]. We have to be smart for the long-term.”

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