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TMCNet:  SMCISD takes stock: Facilities survey reveals major problems; Bond survey detailed

[January 15, 2013]

SMCISD takes stock: Facilities survey reveals major problems; Bond survey detailed

SAN MARCOS, Jan 15, 2013 (San Marcos Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Many of the schools in the San Marcos CISD are not in full compliance with either the American Disabilities Act (ADA) or Texas Education Agency (TEA) regulations regarding classroom size.

That news came Monday night from consultants with the Huckabee architecture, engineering and management team hired by the district to prepare a comprehensive report on the state of facilities within the SMCISD.

Last night's special called school board meeting was attended by a packed house of residents who came to hear what will be the first of many meetings as the board considers whether to call a bond election this May.

Darren Kirbo of Huckabee and his team spent the past three months canvassing the conditions of the buildings and documenting their findings in a 600-page report presented to the board.

Going through the schools with just a brief overview, one by one, Kirbo and his team exposed problems that the district must fix as well as others about which major decisions will have to made.

"The new Bowie Elementary, built in 2005, is now almost at full capacity," Kirbo said. "And it has issues with ADA non-compliance that the district must fix." Even the newer Crockett Elementary was not without problems, as many classrooms do not comply with TEA regulations on square footage based on the number of children in the rooms. And that was a theme that continued campus after campus in the report.

"We also found lots of combustible material posted on the hallways," Kirbo said. "It is up to the fire marshal to enforce, but these hallways serve as the main emergency exits and should be clear." At DeZavala and several older campuses, the team found concrete slabs that have shifted. which in turn creates more ADA non-compliance issues.

Kirbo showed pictures of non-compliant areas in each school, including all the exterior doors, sidewalks, ramps and many interior doors at Miller Middle School. Other non-compliant areas in the schools ranged from access to buildings, stages, water fountains, etc.

"Mendez Elementary needs a complete new roof replacement," Kirbo said, to which Superintendent Mark Eads added the cost for that alone would run $1.6 million.

Another issue of concern was the lack of energy efficient windows in the district.

"So not one single building in our district has energy efficient windows " Trustee Paul Mayhew asked Kirbo at one point.

"That is correct," Kirbo replied. "All are single pane vs. energy efficient two pane with dead space in-between." Kirbo also said the high school is within about 300 students of reaching full capacity.

Board members also heard the results of a recent phone survey about the possibility of a bond election and how the public felt about one.

Baselice and Associates conducted the survey which spoke to 380 respondents from lists comprised of parent phone numbers and registered voters.

Of those, 34 percent said they lived on the east side of IH-35, 64 percent said they lived on the west side and two percent told surveyors they weren't sure which side they lived on.

Teachers ranked high in the survey with 74 percent of respondents having a positive image of them and only seven percent negative. As a whole, 71 percent of respondents had a positive image of the district while 15 percent felt negatively about the SMCISD. Trustees were given a 39 percent positive rating with 15 percent negative and 31 percent having no opinion.

On the question of support if the district called a bond election for $120 million, 49 percent said yes, 38 percent said no and 14 percent said they were unsure.

Trustees were given a copy of the survey results but only highlights were shared during the meeting, in part due to the length of the facilities presentation that followed.

Eads said the next step is for a Citizens Advisory Committee to receive the reports on Thursday and then meet weekly over the next four weeks.

"Then on Feb. 11, the citizens advisory committee will present their recommendations to the board of trustees," Eads said.

___ (c)2013 the San Marcos Daily Record (San Marcos, Texas) Visit the San Marcos Daily Record (San Marcos, Texas) at www.sanmarcosrecord.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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