CCISD board discusses future facilities, $4.875 million in renovations for Fairview-Jewell Elementary
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Independent School District Board of Trustees received an update on the renovation plans for Fairview-Miss Jewell Elementary School and discussed student growth during their Workshop meeting last Monday afternoon.
The board approved architecture and design firm O’Connell Robertson to be the architect for the project back in June. Since then, members of the firm have had the opportunity to tour the facilities and meet with CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns.
The renovation plan mainly focuses on the Fairview side but will touch on the Miss Jewell side, according to Jarrod Sterzinger, Project Manager with O’Connell Robertson. The goal is to be finished in time for the 2019-2020 school year, Burns added.
The presentation included maps of the campus showing how they are currently and where the renovations are meant to take place. The plan included 16 items to work through- beginning with floor finish improvements; painting interior walls; replacing the ceiling; extending corridor walls; replacing mechanical systems; replacing existing lighting; extending the fire alarm system; remodeling restrooms, the cafeteria/kitchen, classrooms, administration area, library and corridor ramps; exterior soffit repair; site improvements; and building demolition.
The two main projects where most of the focus is going to be are: creating one large, central kitchen and cafeteria space and creating a centralized administration space. The centralized administration space would be located where the existing cafeteria is on the Miss Jewell side. The cafeteria and kitchen would be in the same place on the Fairview side but would be significantly expanded.
Sterzinger said that they are starting to work through the design development and contract document process and anticipates that design process to be complete by November 2018 and notice to bids going out in December 2018, with a notice to proceed in January 2019. Because Miss Jewell will be an active campus with students still during the 2018-2019 school year, construction won’t begin on the Miss Jewell side until late May or early June, but the project is expected to be complete by August 2019, in time for the 2019-2020 school year.
The estimated construction costs for the renovations are $4.875 million.
Concerns were raised over the cafeteria being located on one end of the school instead of in a centralized area.
Burns explained that the district had looked into idea of a new kitchen and cafeteria added to the campus but scrapped that idea as it added more than a million dollars to the cost of the project. Regarding concerns of students walking across the space between the two buildings during bad weather, Burns said that other schools, such as Clements-Parsons Elementary and Williams-Ledger Elementary, face similar problems and added that they could always add a covered walkway.
To build a new campus large enough to house as many students that Fairview-Miss Jewell will be able to house would cost at least $20 million, Burns said. Spending the $4.8 million is a cost-effective way for the district to fit 300 to 400 more students on the campus.
There are also plans to enlarge the library on the Fairview side and turn the Miss Jewell side library, which is technically just two classrooms, into a campus development center.
Burns said that should the need arise, that room could always be divided back into two classrooms to accommodate more students. The campus could hold a maximum of 900 students if every space was utilized to the fullest, but that makes for a very large elementary campus, so the district set a limit of between 700 and 800 students, Burns said.
Place 2 board member Harry Byrd said he was concerned about student growth in the district and whether the campus would be big enough.
“I think that if we were to take this campus to the point we’re trying to, on that side of town, if we had growth, significant growth out there, this campus would be as big as we’d want it,” Burns said.
The next campus to be expanded would end up being Martin Walker, or the district would need to build a new campus on the South side of town, he added.
“There is a little spurt of development on that south end of town, but the vast majority is on the north side,” Burns said. “And so, our hope would be that we could pull kids that currently go to the North side of town that are on the South side of F.M. 1113, pull those kids back around and take them to this campus and give us some relief on the north side of town.”
Burns referred to Phase II of the Heartwood Park homes near S.C. Lee and Williams-Ledger Elementary School, as well as the neighborhood across from House Creek Elementary and explained that these growing housing developments mean that there is a need for the district to continually plan for the future.
In the 2019-2020 school year, Burns predicted that the district would have to rezone which students go to which school and make it so that those living in or near Skyline Flats would attend Fairview-Miss Jewell again instead of House Creek Elementary or Williams-Ledger. That’s why it is important to have the renovations done before school starts next year, he added.
Board members Bob Weiss and Inez Faison requested to look at the early stage plans showing a centralized cafeteria, which Sterzinger provided.
When discussing why he backed away from the idea of a centralized cafeteria, Burns said he wanted to keep the price under $5 million. The district was trying to accomplish what it needed to while maintaining some financial degree of responsibility, he said.
Burns discussed the threshold for students at Fairview-Miss Jewell again, saying that the campus would not get bigger than 750 or 800 students. In the past, the district has seen the campuses with portable buildings and lunch periods beginning at 10:30 a.m. and running until 1:30 p.m. in order to feed all of the students, Burn said.
He also shared that the two main things that drive a schedule were P.E. and lunch.
“You don’t have adequate facilities, that really starts driving your instructional decisions for how you educate kids,” Burns said.
While the campus should keep two gyms, it would be a waste to keep two kitchens and cafeterias fully staffed, he said. With one kitchen, the district was “trying to stay within the envelope of the building to cut down on the cost of operation,” Burns said.
The kitchen on the Fairview side is already more than 50 years old and would eventually have had to be renovated anyway, he said.
The restrooms in Miss Jewell will also need to eventually be renovated and brought up to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and accommodate a larger student population.
Faison asked about whether the total cost of all the renovations done to Fairview-Miss Jewell, which she estimated would total at least $9 million if the restrooms were done later, would be worth it rather than a new facility.
“It’s not uncommon for us to go in and renovate and repair and try to correct things,” Burns said. “We are fortunate that our buildings are well-cared for. The design that they were built under though just does not meet the needs of what exists today.”
Burns explained that this didn’t mean that bulldozing and starting from scratch was necessary.
“That could be a viable campus for a long time,” Burns said, adding that the building had a good roof, good electrical and would be getting a new HVAC mechanical.
It would be a “travesty” to bulldoze after all the work that has been put into the building, he said.
With the renovation plan, CCISD is trying to create a scenario that will meet the needs for the next three to seven years, not necessarily 25 years from now, he said.
“We may see population dynamics grow and we may see the south side of town blow up and take off, as best as it could, but we’re squeezed on that end of town a whole lot more than we are than when you go north and when you go west,” Burns said.
Burns shared that CCISD will likely be facing the need for a brand-new facility in the next five to 10 years on the North side of town as those housing developments pop up and grow. House Creek Elementary has been at capacity since it first opened in 2012.
The district has had to freeze transfers at CCHS for anyone who is not a student, who has been with the district for at least two years, because of the ratio of faculty to students, while both S.C. Lee Junior High and CCJHS are pushing close to 1,000 students each.
The board agreed to let O’Connell Robertson continue with the renovation plan as proposed and voted to approve the plan during their regular meeting Tuesday evening.