On the heels of a well-attended groundbreaking at Shirley Hall Middle School the week before, the Weatherford ISD board approved a guaranteed maximum price for construction at Tison Middle School at its meeting Thursday.
The building of a new two-story addition will cost a maximum of $7.361 million and be completed in August 2017.
Pogue Construction’s Zac Walker said 122 bid proposals were received and that $850,000 (12 percent) was awarded to seven local subcontractors.
"It’s exciting to be where we’re at right now," he said.
The Tison addition will be on the western side of the existing building and be built to match the current structure so it "looks like it has always been there." The new capacity will be 1,100 students and accommodate grades sixth through eighth.
Track and field areas at the school will also be upgraded and construction won’t interfere with classes in the 2016 school year.
Tracy Ray, assistant superintendent of business and operations, added that the overall bond that included three propositions totaling $74.9 million has come in under budget by $355,194.
"We are all excited that the market held and we were able to secure [costs]," she said. "There are some contingencies built into those numbers but we don’t anticipate anything but you just never know."
Trustee Jeff Geyer asked if, during construction at both middle schools, there would be a way for tours to be arranged so not only board members but the community could see the progress of what’s going on. Warner said "absolutely" and Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks added that the district could initiate a standing tour each month or at a designated interval for anyone who wanted to show up to see the facilities being built.
Also at the meeting, the board heard from Lance Campbell, Executive Director of Secondary Instruction, about grading guidelines for grades 7-12. In August, the board approved the guidelines but questions surfaced about the retesting policy.
At issue was the policy that a student who fails a test has the option to retake the test but can only receive a maximum grade of 70. A committee was then created that included teachers, administrators and students to talk about what would be an acceptable alternative.
After researching other district’s policies and some more discussion, a survey was sent to 55 teachers in grades kindergarten through 12 in January asking about the reassessment policy and asked what was acceptable to them. Eighty percent responded that 70 was sufficient and 22 percent thought 80 was acceptable. The remaining percentages were split between 90 and 100 being reasonable.
"[It was determined that the] committee felt good about a 70," Campbell said. "We were a bit torn with the decision but we decided that we would leave it up to the educator in the room."
A recommendation in the policy now states that students who score below a 70 on a test will be allowed – once every six weeks as agreed upon by the teacher – to retake the test for a minimum of a 70. If the student score on the retest is lower than the original score, the original score will be recorded. If it’s higher than a 70, the student could earn that score depending on the discretion of the teacher.
For example, if a student scores a 60 on a test, chooses to retest and gets a 75, they would earn a minimum of the 70 but could be awarded the 75 if the teacher chooses.
Geyer said he felt like the policy needed to be clear and concise for parents to understand and that he didn’t feel that the minimum retest score should be decided by the board. He did say, however, that there needed to be uniformity so that it "doesn’t create confusion."
Campbell replied by saying that retest policies would be set by department and campus so as to keep it uniform and avoid confusion.
Board Vice President Dr. Joshua Tarbay said education was full of "grey areas" and that he liked that teachers were being given the discretion to decide what was best for the student.
Campbell said the policy was still being discussed and may be tweaked again.
"We can fix some things," he said. "We can get better."