Facility plans still up in the air

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, September 29, 2018
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Decatur ISD trustees will meet with architects and builders next month to form short-term and long-range facility plans.

At Monday’s meeting, trustees set the planning session for Oct. 22 after getting a facilities update from architect George DeJohn of Claycomb Associates.

The planned meeting will be one week after trustees receive an updated report from Templeton Demographics.

“We’ll look at short- and long-range plans for all of our facilities,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis. “We’ll look at the capacities [of the campuses] and where we’re headed. We’ll revisit plans for previous discussed areas.”

Representatives from Claycomb and the district’s current builder Steele and Freeman are expected to be at the Oct. 22 meeting.

The district is in the process of reconfiguring part of its library for a bistro. Trustees approved a guaranteed maximum price of $423,932 for the facility in August. DeJohn said its working with the city of Decatur to get construction permits. A few revisions to the plans are being required, including adding a floor drain and extending a wall. He said the project remains on schedule to be completed in November.

In May, the district put on hold plans for a career and technology addition at the high school. After being presented with cost projections of $3.19 million for a weight room, athletics media center and fieldhouse renovations, the district wanted to look at cutting costs.

In an update Monday, DeJohn said all the contractors they work with saw a 20 percent increase in the costs of projects over the summer.

“We’ve been factoring in about 1 percent per month regularly,” DeJohn said. “Between the tariffs and costs, we’ve seen projects across the board come in high.”

DeJohn said his firm would like to sit down with district officials and see where they want to go with the project, including reducing the scope of it.

Whitis responded with the suggestion of the full facility review.

“Six weeks into school our classroom needs have changed since our last conversation. There’s a couple of other projects that need to be on the table,” Whitis said. “There’s programs that are growing.

“We need to sit around the table and make a facility plan that is going to fit our needs well.”

For the Oct. 22 meeting, trustee Matt Joiner requested that administration gather enrollments by programs – band, choir, fine arts and athletics.

In other business, Deputy Superintendent Cindy Tatum said the district will transfer $1.1 million to fund balance after closing the 2017-18 fiscal year.

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