LHISD sells building to Waco-based developer

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By SARAH SILBERSTEIN

Liberty Hill school trustees on Monday approved the sale of the former LHISD Administration Building located at 14001 State Highway 29 West to 2:12 Ventures, LLC in the amount of $801,000.

“It’s my understanding that they buy property and either construct or renovate buildings into commercial office space that they lease to tenants,” Superintendent Rob Hart told The Independent after the meeting. He said the company is based in the Waco area.

Trustee Jeff Madison abstained from voting on the sale. Dr. Hart said Madison did not have to abstain, but felt it was appropriate to do so because his partnership leases office space from 2:12 in Waco.

The two-story building, which has been on the market since November 2014, previously housed central administrative offices of the school district.

In 2010, LHISD voters approved a bond package that included funding to remodel the former Intermediate School campus on Forrest Street and turn the building into offices for central administration and a meeting room for the school board. The former administration building has been vacant since 2014.

Hart said the district received five bids on the building over the course of two years prior to accepting the 2:12 Ventures bid this week.

The opening bid price was reduced to $800,000 earlier this fall.

Trustees learned Monday that the district earned a B rating from School FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) for its 2014-2015 financial data.

The school district submits financial information to the Texas Education Agency annually and the agency assesses 15 different outlined criteria in assigning a grade. In the 2014-2015 report, a score of 70-100 was considered superior (received a grade of an A), in the 2015-2016 report, a score of 90-100 will be considered superior.

“We are working to strengthen [our score] each year,” LHISD Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Hanna said.

The Board unanimously approved the 2015-2016 independent financial audit as presented by Singleton, Clark & Company.

LHISD generated $28.5 million in revenue and had $28.5 million in expenditures in 2015-2016. As of Aug. 31, LHISD had a fund balance of $4.5 million (16 percent of annual expenditures), which meets the state requirements.

The audit did find one instance of budgetary non-compliance in which the child nutrition budget was exceeded by $16,000. Preston Singleton, who presented the audit, attributed this to a budgetary oversight.

“In our opinion, the financial statements that follow are materially correct,” Singleton said. “I do believe this is an audit the school board can be proud of.”

Bartlet Cocke contractors and Huckabee & Associates architects updated the board on the status of district construction projects.

Structural steel work has begun on the classrooms at Rancho Sienna Elementary School and the project is still on target for completion by Aug. 1.

As part of renovations at Liberty Hill Elementary School, some unneeded classroom space will be turned into meeting space with flexible walls that can be utilized by the whole school.

Huckabee will begin accepting bids for the elementary school improvements in February 2017 and construction will take place June-August 2017. The firm is currently accepting bids for the agriculture barn improvements and construction will take place February-August 2017.

Shaun Bunting, Nick Boatright and Ryan Reid addressed the Board during public comments portion of the meeting Monday about concerns over the agriculture barn improvement project. The parents identified concerns with fencing, camera placement and the water system.

Boatright, whose daughter’s pig was attacked at the barn over the weekend, said “security is [his] biggest concern now.”

Bunting said he was addressing the Board to “facilitate open dialog to address shortcomings” in the renovation plans.

The Board entered closed session at 6:53 p.m. in accordance with Texas Government Code 551.072 and 551.074 to discuss real estate and personnel, and reconvened from closed session at 8:54 p.m.

In other business this week, the Board accepted the resignations of Junior High math teacher Kathryn French, Intermediate School math teacher Matt Wordell, and high school CTE instructor Sheila Dolbow.

The Board approved the employment of LHHS resource English instructor Crystal Casanova, LHHS Tennis Coach and physical education teacher Brittni Fausett, and Junior High math teacher Sarah Masselink.

The Board also approved the adoption of TASB Policy Update 106 that requires the district to install video cameras in certain special education classrooms if requested by parents or staff.

The Board adopted the 2016-2017 Hazardous Traffic Conditions for Transportation resolution, which allows the district to provide transportation for all LHISD students because of dangerous roadways like State Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 183.

The Board unanimously approved LHISD’s participation in the 1Government Procurement Alliance (1GPA) which, according to Hart, is a purchasing Co-Op that helps to improve the school district’s buying power.

According to the consent agenda presented by Dr. Hart, all LHISD campuses performed above a 95 percent attendance rating for the month of November. There are currently 3,673 students enrolled in LHISD. Dr. Hart identified two budget amendments in which monetary funds were moved from food service to maintenance for kitchen repairs and from the general fund for the renegotiated copier contract.

LHISD students will be on winter vacation from Dec. 19-Jan. 2. Teachers will return for a work day on Jan. 2.

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