By Kathi Bliss
As continues on sweeping renovations at Lockhart High School, the LISD Board of Trustees is preparing to take the next steps in the massive $63.9 million bond package approved by voters in 2014.
Next on the agenda is a renovation of the ML Cisneros Freshman Campus Bois D’Arc Street, which, after revamped, will become home to the District’s Central Offices and the Pride High School.
Project Manager Jo Zunker, with Owners Building Resources, offered a lengthy presentation to the Trustees on Monday evening during their regular business meeting, which included not only historical photographs of the building, but also schematics for the proposed renovation.
Under the current plans, Zunker reassured the Trustees, very little external work will be done, preserving the historic air of the campus. Internally, however, the campus will undergo extensive renovation.
Central Office, she said, will be moved into the main, two-story building. In addition, the second-story rear wing of the building, which currently houses the library, will be retrofit as a Board Room, which will allow trustee meetings to be moved back to Central Office.
It will also allow District offices, including Special Education and Community Education, to move back under the same roof with the rest of administration, rather than being housed remotely.
During previous meetings, Superintendent Susan K. Bohn made mention of listing several existing buildings, including the current Central Office space on Highway 183, for sale after the renovations and move are complete, in an effort to recoup some of the money spent on the projects. The Board has not, to date, moved forward with plans for any sale.
Zunker said the schematics were ready to present to the Construction Manager At Risk, and that the project should be moving forward this summer, after classes dismiss and the campus is abandoned.
She also provided an update on the progress of construction at Lockhart High School, which is the most extensive project being funded by the voter-approved debt.
The Performing Arts Center, she said, is nearing completion, as is the two-story wing. Masons are working on installing brickwork throughout the project, and within the month, the band hall will be relocated to their new home in the Performing Arts building, so work can begin on the renovated locker rooms.
Additionally, a bid proposal is being prepared to install turf on the field at Lion Stadium.
That project, which was approved with a budget of $900,000 earlier this year, is expected to begin almost immediately after approval of a contract, so the field will be ready for the beginning of football practices in August.
Further, the Board saw the proposed drawings of the new parking lot and band practice surface, which will be installed at the current practice fields on Medina Street. That project, too, should be ready for the beginning of practices in August.
In other business, Bohn gave the Board a “heads up” that there may be changes to bilingual programming at the campuses next year.
Growth, particularly in the bilingual population and at Bluebonnet Elementary, has far exceeded the projections given by the District’s demographer when Attendance Zones were drawn last year. Because of that unprecedented growth, Bohn said, it may be necessary to expand bilingual programming to a fourth elementary campus, instead of the three where bilingual services are currently housed.
There are “operational decisions” that will have to be made to offset that growth, she said; changes in bilingual programming are among them.
The District’s demographer is scheduled to make a presentation at a special called meeting on April 10, to educate the Trustees on updated figures.
They also heard information from District CFO Tina Knudsen on the preliminary budget preparations for the next school year.
Those preparations, Knudsen said, are contingent both on the Caldwell County Appraisal District’s preliminary appraisal roll, which is due in late May, and the decisions of the 85th Legislature, which could potentially slash school funding.
The Board recognized dozens of students for their academic and performance achievements. Among those were the District Science Fair Winners, State and Regional Solo and Ensemble musicians, State-competitors in choir, and an artist who has been recognized statewide.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Library at Lockhart Junior High School.
The meetings are open to the public and available for online viewing at www.lockhartisd.org.