The Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees has a lot of homework to do after receiving and accepting findings of the Huckabee architectural group, who surveyed WISD’s facilities over the past several months.
The goal of the surveys and testing was to "observe, record and determine the present conditions of the facilities," according to the group’s purpose statement.
Board President Paul Paschall referred to it as "the long awaited and anticipated and exciting" report.
"It is an overwhelming amount of information and it will take a long time to digest," Chris Huckabee of the architectural group warned the board.
The report includes the findings for each of the 17 facilities covering 1.5 million square feet and hosting a student population of approximately 7,700.
"They’ve lived longer than they should have," said Huckabee’s associate principal, Tim McClure, who presented the report.
McClure said it is a testament to the maintenance team that the buildings have survived so long and so well, many of them for more than 30 years.
At this meeting, McClure explained the format of the report, which includes information concerning areas including campus data, master plans, building conditions, engineering structural reports, food services and security.
The only data missing concern the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology of the facilities. Those will be provided by the next meeting in early May.
Superintendent Jefferey Hanks praised Huckabee group for their work done and their efficiency.
"They’ve done this without being disruptive," Hanks said.
The next steps will involve the board members going over the information and then responding with their input and also input from other WISD faculty and department heads.
"Your input will drive prioritization," Huckabee said to the board.
That is the next goal – prioritizing what work needs to be done in the facilities so WISD can involve the community, create the costs and establish a timeline.
"It is sad to me that a lot of these were identified," Paschall said of the issues found in the facilities.
But McClure said with an ISD of their size and considering the age of the facilities, WISD is not in a bad position.
"It could be a lot worse," McClure said.
The work begun months ago will continue as the board examines the results of the report and look to the future as they decide what will be done next.
In an interview with the Weatherford Star-Telgram after the meeting, Hanks said the report done by Huckabee wasn’t unusual as most architecture do something of this sort when they are hired.
“They need a baseline to go from,” Hanks said. “[This report] is extremely detailed and nothing we’ve ever done before.”
Huckabee was recently approved as the district’s architect after a more than 20-year relationship with VLK Architects.
Though some of the findings in the report are items that are being corrected over the summer with maintenance dollars previously allocated, there are quite a lot more that will require attention and a long-range plan. There are also some items listed that city and state codes were changed after construction of the facility and WISD is exempt from having to correct those unless some major work is done on the facility that would require the change to be made.
Hanks also said that after the report is digitized, it will be put online on the district’s website so the public and anyone wanting to know can look and see exactly what is needed and can comment on what they feel is most important for the district. He cautioned, however, that priorities change because of unforeseen circumstances.
“If we have a severe storm or something like that, then obviously fixing a damaged building will take priority over what we might agree on,” he said.
Hanks also noted that some of the security items on the report won’t be made available to the public, as to avoid the information getting into the wrong hands and creating issues for students and staff.
In 2013, WISD sought a $107.32 million bond to upgrade and expand its facilities and infrastructure. The bond package had included four key focus areas including safety and security, building capacity, technology, and capital improvements.
According to District reports, three of WISD’s seven elementary campuses were over their functional capacity levels - Austin Elementary, Curtis Elementary and Wright Elementary. Hanks said the average age of the facilities in Weatherford is about 32 years, with the high school, Ikard Elementary and Seguin Elementary being the newest of the building.
Hanks added that Travis and the Bowie Learning Center are oldest as construction was done in 1936 on those.