Trustees approve architect contract



Liberty Hill school trustees took another step Monday in the process of developing a bond proposal for the construction of a new elementary school.

With Trustees Greg Thrash, Shawn Vickers and Shawn Roberts absent, the Board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Huckabee & Associates for architectural services.

The firm played the same role in the $86 million bond election in 2010 that funded the construction of the new high school and athletic complex, as well as expansions and renovations at Liberty Hill Junior High, Liberty Hill Intermediate and Liberty Hill Elementary schools, as well as the renovation of the new administration building.

The contract approved Monday provides for a 6 percent fee for new construction and 7.5 percent for renovations and additions of the actual cost of construction for all bond issue projects.

In August, the Board voted to hire the firm and authorized Superintendent Rob Hart to negotiate a contract for services. On Monday, Hart said the fees negotiated in the contract were similar to what was done in the past.

He added that once a package is developed, the Board would be asked to adopt a resolution that will allow for the reimbursement of fees associated with planning — funds that can be recouped from bond proceeds.

The school district has already chosen a site for the new elementary school at Rancho Sienna subdivision off Ronald Reagan Blvd. District administrators say a new elementary school is needed in response to current and projected growth in enrollment.

A Community Committee on School Facilities met for the first time Nov. 9. The Committee, which was appointed by the Superintendent after receiving recommendations from school trustees, is tasked with developing a proposal for a bond election that will include the construction of the new school and any other possible projects.

Members of the committee include Joy Barreras, Shaun Bunting, Paul Curtis, Bryan Gilbert, Chelle Harrison, Michelle Hawley, Sarah Janicek, Cathy Kieschnick, Holly Kociuba, Everett Lee, Scott Lindquist, Gerald Lorance, Jeff Madison, Monica Miller, Laura Morrison, Michael Ondrasek, Reagan Russell and Nick Russo.

“We had a good turnout, although it was light,” said Hart of the committee’s first meeting. “It was an introductory meeting.”

He said members were provided demographic information for the school district, showing projected enrollments and housing growth. The panel also discussed the timeline for its work and discussed future meeting dates.

Hart has previously stated that the goal is to bring the bond proposal to Liberty Hill ISD voters in May 2016. If voters approve a bond package, Hart is hopeful that the new school will be ready for students in fall 2017.

Trustees also adopted a handbook that will serve as a guide for technical specifications and school design, which will be used by the district as more facilities are constructed.

Hart said administrators worked closely with Architect Lance Melton to develop the handbook. Melton explained that the handbook will help expedite future building projects by identifying systems used throughout the district, allowing for consistency from campus to campus.

“It establishes a basis of quality for products and building systems,” he said.

As an example, he said the manual contains lists of hardware used in projects funded in 2010, as well as air conditioning systems, finishes used for walls, floors and ceilings.

Melton said the district isn’t obligated to continue using the styles and systems contained in the handbook in future years. However, he suggested it be reviewed and updated when new construction is being considered.

“It is common for districts to have this, especially in larger, fast-growing districts. You’re quickly approaching the fast growth scenario,” he said.

Hart reported Monday that enrollment districtwide has increased by 214 students since the last day of school in June 2015. Current enrollment is 3,482, he said.

Also Monday, the Board voted to reject three bids for the purchase of the former administration building at 14001 State Highway 29.

The building, which has an assessed value of about $1.025 million, has been on the market more than a year.

The three bids rejected this week were from Randall Riley in the amount of $651,000, Steve Stach in the amount of $300,000 and Fantozzi Ltd. in the amount of $500,000.

“This time last year, we rejected a bid of $851,000 from the City of Liberty Hill, so I suggest we reject all three of these bids,” Hart said. “We don’t have choice.”

According to state law, school districts are required to follow certain guidelines to sell real estate. State law prohibits school districts from selling property significantly below the appraised value.

Following an hour-long executive session, the Board voted to set a minimum price of $900,000 and publish again the acceptance of bids for the sale of the property.

The two-story building is situated on 1.33 acres and contains 10,110 square feet of net leasable area.

The Board also heard an annual report of the number of Highly Qualified Teachers employed in the district.

Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun said 100 percent of all teachers are teaching in their areas of certification.

Also this week, the Board voted to change is December meeting date from the third Monday of the month to Dec. 14 due to the winter break.