The Schleicher County ISD board of trustees voted Monday evening, May 14th, to approve an agreement with CADCO Architects-Engineers of Abilene in order to explore options for building a new elementary school.

SCISD Superintendent Robert Gibson emphasized that the district did not hire the firm and is spending no money at this time. Neither is SCISD committing to a building program.

“We are just looking ahead and planning for the future,” Gibson told The Eldorado Success. “We can do that best by working with a company that has designed schools and understands the process.”
Gibson explained that CADCO had recently built schools at Aspermont, Loraine, Robert Lee and Goldthwaite.

SCISD’s non-binding agreement with CADCO allows the school to hire another architecture firm if and when the time comes. However, the school is prohibited from revealing the company’s prices and methods to its competitors.

Gibson said he is planning to make site visits and look at some of CADCO’s designs, including Goldthwaite where a new elementary school was built in 2015. The company’s website describes the Goldthwaite project as 57,877 square feet including a new gymnasium, library, administration offices, and a security vestibule. The overall price tag for that project was listed as $9.4 million.

Monday night’s discussion focused on the best and most affordable way to replace the school’s aging elementary campus. The discussion is happening now because SCISD is expecting to receive a $3 million lump sum payment in January of 2019 when the Live Oak wind farm goes on the tax rolls. Gibson explained that a similar payday could be realized as soon as the following year when the proposed Lost Mines wind farm goes on-line.

The school currently has $2.1 million in the bank that the trustees have designated specifically for capital improvements.

It was noted that the school district could wait until it had enough money to pay cash for the project, or it could explore financing options. Finance Director Ray Ballew explained that tax rolls are expected to rise in the next couple of years with rebounding energy prices and the completion of new wind farms. He also noted that the school might receive additional funding from leasing school land it owns in Gaines County.

Receiving little or no support from the board was the possibility of passing a bond in order to borrow money for construction.

After voting to enter into the agreement with CADCO, the trustees voted to use a “construction manager at risk” delivery system if and when the district moves ahead with a construction project. The “construction manager at risk” system benefits project owners by allowing them to receive a GMP “guaranteed maximum price” on a project and realize potential savings if costs come in below the GMP.

In other business, the trustees accepted the resignation of Ag teacher John Osborne who is retiring. It was noted, however, that Osborne will likely return in the fall to work part-time as he assists Catherine Ward, the new Ag teacher the board voted to hire during Monday night’s meeting. Ward was raised Motley County and Upton County and is a graduate of Rankin High School. She is a recent graduate of Sul Ross State University.

The board also voted to re-elect Kriss Griffin as its president, Kurtis Home as Vice President and Lupe Sanchez as Secretary. The action came after Griffin, Sanchez and Holly Griffin took the oath of office and were seated for their new three-year terms.

It was reported that the district’s overall enrollment was 539 as of May 4th. That compares to 533 at the beginning of school.

Principals Perry Graves, Ezra Walling and Michael Rudewick reported on a surge of activity on their three campuses as students approach the last day of school on Thursday, May 24th.

Athletic Director Michael Johnson was on hand to review how busy the Eldorado Eagles athletes have been. He also introduced Andi Morris and Eric Reyes who will be representing Eldorado High School at the State Tennis Meet this week in Mixed Doubles.

Finance Director Ray Ballew advised the board that the district has received almost all of the property tax revenue that was expected. He explained that the $4,681,118.77 in the bank with $2.1 million of that being designated for capital improvements.

The board also approved a list of student transfers and tuition waivers for the 2018-19 school year and authorized Superintendent Gibson to execute a “shared services agreement” with Education Service Center XV.

Board President Kriss Griffin chaired Monday night’s meeting with trustees Lupe Sanchez, Holly Griffin, Glynn Hutto, Melissa Rodriguez, Michael Mertz and Kurtis Homer in attendance.

The next meeting of the SCISD board of trustees is slated for 6 p.m. on Monday, June 11th, in the administration building.