Improving the look and functionality of Kilgore ISD campuses is a long-term goal for the district's board of trustees. Trustees are following through on this commitment with a renewed District Improvement Plan and the selection of an architectural firm to oversee planned campus projects.
At the Monday, Oct. 28 meeting, KISD Superintendent Dr. Andy Baker told trustees the review of the plan constituted a “first reading”, giving trustees a chance to review the plan over the coming month before approving it.
“I’ve given you an action sheet real quick just to kind of explain what this is and why we do this and what this brings in for the district. This is a living document that we basically go through and give it to you guys as a first reading this month and we’ll bring it back to you next month and ask you to officially approve it for this school year,” Baker said.
Trustee Joe Parker asked Baker if the document must be read to the public. Baker said this was not necessary, as the plan was being provided only for trustees’ review.
Trustee Alan Clark asked if the district’s mission statement had changed from previous years. Baker replied the statement was unchanged from the time he joined the district in January of this year.
According to KISD’s website, the district’s mission statement is “preparing today's students for tomorrow's opportunities”. The site also lists the district’s beliefs: “quality instruction is critical for student success, academic excellence is our cornerstone, education is more than just classrooms or test scores and responsible citizenship is character in action.”
District improvement plans contain a list of goals and targets a school district aims to achieve in the coming school year in order to bolster a variety of school metrics.
For example, a plan can address issues including student standardized test scores, employee turnover and campus safety. KISD’s 2018-2019 District Improvement plan addressed these issues and more, including maintaining drug-free campuses, improving student engagement in classrooms and boosting student enrollment in certain courses.
The achievement or lack of achievement of certain goals in a previous year’s improvement plan may inform the creation and prioritization of goals in the current year’s plan. Further discussion of the 2019-2020 plan will occur at the Nov. 18 board meeting.
Trustees also selected an architectural firm to complete two major campus projects: an HVAC project and a parking lot project. The district sent out RFQ #20-01, a request for qualifications, on the project.
“Kilgore ISD sent out for a selection of architects. We had four that returned requests for qualifications,” Baker said.
The superintendent advised the board, at this stage, the projects were in preliminary stages and the district was seeking to establish contact with a suitable architectural company.
“Just as a reminder, this is simply trying to begin a conversation and a relationship with an architectural firm. We have two projects right now that we are going to need the services of engineers to help us complete, one being an HVAC thing we have going on in which we have to rearrange some gas lines. We’re going to need some engineers to help us with that. There are some parking lot projects that we have going on for the summer that we’re going to need some engineers’ help with as well. What the architectural firms will do for us in the immediate future is be able to help us out with acquiring the services of different engineering firms.”
KISD requests for qualification were returned by Claycomb Associates Architects of Dallas, Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong Architecture and Surveying of Lufkin, McKinley-Golden Architects LLC of Lufkin and Potter Design Ltd. of Longview.
Trustee Alan Clark asked if the service fees from each firm would be similar.
“Yes, fees for services will be similar. There’s not going to be any fees for this portion at all, though. This is just, more or less, getting a relationship going with them. It’ll be an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with whichever one, if we choose one, to get things going but you wouldn’t even have your fees and services going until you actually start using them. Especially for actions like getting engineers and stuff for us and getting conversations with them, they’re all right there in the exact same ballpark,” Baker said.
Trustees shared opinions and experiences with the various firms.
Claycomb Associates has completed projects at the Henderson ISD football field, the Athens ISD gymnasium and football field and the Jacksonville Tomato Bowl football field. Potter Design completed work on Union Grove ISD’s new auditorium, Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong completed Carthage ISD’s indoor practice field and did work on their elementary school buildings while McKinley-Golden completed work for Carthage ISD, according to Baker.
Baker also said he had a good relationship with Claycomb Associates stemming from his tenure as superintendent of Edgewood ISD, when the firm worked with that district on the design of Edgewood High School and Edgewood Elementary. He also worked with the firm while a principal at Prosper ISD.
“I went through the bond process with them, the design process with them and, as a principal in Prosper, they designed the middle school campus.”
In response to trustees’ questions, Baker affirmed Claycomb Associates had performed an excellent job on these construction projects and had also been responsive about promptly fixing any issues on the projects.
Baker advised trustees they did not have to take action Monday and could hold off on the decision until November. Several trustees commended Claycomb Associates’ work on Athens ISD’s gymnasium.
Trustee Alan Clark made a motion to select Claycomb Associates for the campus projects based on Baker’s relationship with the firm and the successful completion of several school projects by the firm. Trustee Lloyd Vanderwater seconded the motion and trustees approved the motion unanimously.