CCAISD Proposition One – Breaking it down

Electrical  infrastructure is antiquated/Low voltage, communications wiring has sprawled from building to building. Some of it appears to be no longer in service. This is typical for aging school buildings that were not designed with raceways. conduit and wire management for modern technology and systems are routed by the cheapest and quickest means. This type of quick fix results in outages and intermittent service.

By Becky Brewster

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*PSC did not want this information published in actual dollar amounts because, from their experience, people then want to hold the District to those dollar amounts for each project of the construction. Additionally, that these are preliminary numbers and are subject to change because the process still has 3 design phases to go through before everything is finalized. 

The Advocate feels our readers understands the dollars better than the percentages and have exercised our right to include this information.

The CCAISD Board of Trustees will have Proposition One on the ballot for the May 7 Election for voters to decide on whether or not to approve a $30M bond issue for facility improvements. The firm of Parkhill, Smith and Cooper (PSC) was contracted to perform an in-depth evaluation of the existing school facilities and make recommendations to the Bond Exploratory Committee and the school board.  School Superintendent Dalia Benavides coordinated a tour of the campuses to provide The Van Horn Advocate with a first-hand look at the condition of the CCAISD properties.  Although many of the problems were obvious such as accessibility deficiencies, dry rot and lack of sprinklers, the primary issues facing the District are not readily discernable, such as the lack of insulation, the antiquated and inadequate electrical system, the plumbing issues, the deterioration of the roof, and the asbestos materials. The existing facility conditions are summarized on the District website http://www.ccaisd.net/district/bond2016  as follows:

• The average age of the district facilities is 60 years and do not comply with current building codes.

• The main campus buildings were built prior to modern air conditioning and lack necessary insulation and building envelope for efficient heating and cooling.

• The electrical infrastructure is stretched beyond its capacity to support current education technology.

• 95% of the A/C systems are 20+ years old.

• None of the District’s facilities have fire sprinkler systems needed for life safety under current code.

• Much of the District’s facilities contain materials that contain asbestos. Any significant upgrade or remodel will, most likely, require asbestos removal.

The school board reviewed various solutions to address the deficiencies in the existing facilities, including renovation of the campuses. The estimates to renovate the elementary/junior high campus and the high school campus were $15M* and $11M* respectively. Portable buildings to house the students during renovations would be an additional cost of up to $1.5M* depending on the duration of the renovation process. According to these estimates from PCS, the renovations could cost up to $27.5M*.  Alternatively, PCS informed the Board that a new K-12 consolidated campus could be constructed for an estimated $30M without the need to displace the students.

Superintendent Benavides will follow the Boards finally determination that, in their opinion, the best option for the District was to direct the majority of the funds to new construction with some improvements to existing facilities.  However, the May 7 election will give the voters the opportunity to voice their opinion on this option. The proposed new construction will include a K-12 consolidated campus with cafeteria and library, science labs, metal shop, wood shop and competition gym. Existing facility improvements will include partial renovation of the old high school into administrative space and renovation of the current gym to be used as a secondary gym.  The band hall/auditorium would remain as is.

Citizens that are interested in the actual design standards now required for school districts can review the requirements in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 2, Chapter 61, Subchapter CC, Rule § 61.1036. These codes lay out the design criteria including classroom size, the requirements for specialized classrooms such as computer classrooms and science labs, and the requirements for major support areas such as gymnasiums and libraries.   These requirements must then be integrated with the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute, the International Code Council, and the National Fire Protection Association as well as local building codes.

The primary areas of contention regarding the bond issue center around renovation of the existing facilities vs. new construction as well as the proposed cost of the facility improvements.

The attached table breaks down the estimated costs associated with the facilities project as determined by PSC based on the initial conceptual design.  Of the proposed $30M, 69% or $20.7M* is estimated for new construction, and 13% or $3.9M* is estimated for renovations to existing buildings.  The table further shows the breakdown of the $20.7M* into the various components of the new construction.

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