Pflugerville ISD building aggressively to avoid rising construction costs in area

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District residents can see the effect of Pflugerville ISD’s 2014 bond as PfISD progresses on several construction projects throughout the district.

PfISD is constructing High School No. 4 off Weiss Lane as well as a new Timmerman Elementary School and district stadium across the street from Pflugerville High School. Furthermore, the district hired a contractor in February for its 21st elementary school.

PfISD Superintendent Alex Torrez said the district has moved forward on several projects simultaneously to save taxpayers money because of rising local construction costs.

“We’re being fiscally responsible,” Torrez said. “For every month we wait, the cost of labor and materials increases.”

Torrez said the district is also moving aggressively because the deadlines for the projects are “hard deadlines,” meaning they have to open before the start of a certain school year.

“When we say the high school is going to open in 2017, we don’t have flexibility with that because all our planning is geared toward that first day of school,” he said. “If you’re a business and you’re building the facility you can maneuver with your opening date. But when you’re talking about opening and adding hundreds of students to a campus, everybody is expecting that’s where they’re going to be.”

Deputy Superintendent Troy Galow said the projects are on schedule despite heavier rains than usual for the season, which often lead to construction delays.

“When we build a job schedule we budget certain rain delays to account for that,” Galow said. “We know a few of those days are not going to be constructible days.”

Gary Schulte, coordinator of construction for PfISD, said the district is incorporating environmentally friendly building elements.

“For heating and cooling we use geothermal systems whenever possible,” he said. “We use a lot of daylighting timers and sensors throughout the campus, which is the most efficient [lighting]system.”

Torrez said the reason for the projects is growth within the district, which also covers areas of Austin, Round Rock and Travis County.

Torrez said looking at the demographer’s reports, district officials expect the facilities the bond money is funding to carry the district into about 2020.

“In 2020 the district is expecting 26,855 students. The [current]facilities won’t be able to manage that number of students,” Torrez said. “That’s not a long ways away. We’ve got to continue working with our demographer and the municipalities to ensure we’re staying up to speed with all the developments in our school district.”


The District’s Big Projects

As pflugerville isd residents move throughout the area, they will see several district projects going vertical.

  1. New Timmerman Elementary school

    Opening: Spring 2017
    Construction budget: $22.6 million

    Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Torrez said the biggest emphasis on constructing new facilities in the bond is on elementary schools because that is where most growth is happening in the district.

    Torrez said a citizens bond committee recommended the district build a new Timmerman Elementary School at a new site instead of renovating the existing facility.

    He said the board of trustee made the decision to place the campus off Pecan Street for improved student safety and accessibility.

    The existing Timmerman will be utilized for the PACE program and possible other uses in the future.

  2. District stadium

    PfISD

    District stadium (via Rendering courtesy Pflugerville ISD)

    Opening: Spring 2017
    Construction budget: $25.8 million

    Gary Schulte, coordinator of construction for PfISD, said the stadium will hold about 10,000 attendees and will host football games and other events such as band or cheerleading competitions and soccer games.

    “Pflugerville ISD is positioned so that other teams may want to use the stadium for their own playoff games,” he said.

    Torrez said one of the factors leading to a districtwide stadium was that crowds were often bigger than the current stadiums’ capacities.

    “Some community members were avoiding going to the games because they didn’t want to have to navigate the seating or park a long way away from the event,” he said.

    Torrez said the citizens bond advisory committee recommended the district build the districtwide stadium after its members looked at the possibility of updating every campus stadium with the requisite seating and other amenities the schools’ sports teams needed.

    Torrez said the district will keep the campus stadiums and will keep them upgraded and up to standard.

    “We will continue to utilize them as the district continues to grow,” he said.

  3. Elementary School No. 21

    Opening: Fall 2017
    Construction budget: $28.35 million

    Elementary School No. 21 is the most recent of the PfISD bond projects to be awarded a contractor. In building the school, Torrez said the new school is “right in line” with the growth the district is seeing along Kelly and Rowe lanes.

    “It’s really well-positioned to help relieve Rowe Lane Elementary, Riojas and Murchison,” he said. “They’re feeling the pinch right now in being overcrowded.”

    Galow said the school will face the northern portion of the property and will be positioned to maximize the queuing lanes for parents.

  4. High School No. 4

    PfISD

    High School No. 4 (via Rendering courtesy Pflugerville ISD)

    Opening: Fall 2017
    Construction budget: $104.4 million

    Torrez said the new high school off Weiss Lane is going to set the district up for the next eight to 10 years’ worth of growth.

    “That’s where a lot of the new developments are coming in,” Torrez said.

    Torrez said the site can eventually host a new elementary school and middle school as well.

    “It’s really set there for the long term to take care of that community that’s going to be developed all around that high school,” he said.

    Torrez said the location off Weiss is geographically central in the district’s boundaries because the district’s boundaries encompass land outside the city of Pflugerville and even toward Manor.

    “There’s still a lot of growth that will happen in our community in that direction,” he said.

Growth in PFISD Growth in PFISD

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  1. The new 10,000 seat PISD stadium will be mostly a waste of money. I think it was built out of ego more than any other reason. (i.e, “If Round Rock and Austin can have their own mega stadiums, then why can’t we?” ) Taxpayers DID vote for the stadium, but it was part of a HUGE bond package which included much needed money for more schools. I seriously doubt if the stadium bond would have passed all by itself, but we’ll never know for sure.

    On the other hand I’m not denying that Texans are VERY passionate about their high school football. For comparison, The Frisco stadium up near Dallas holds an incredible 20,500 people, more than twice the size of the stadium that Pflugerville is building. Some of these local mega-stadiums in the Austin area even offer live TV broadcasts of their games. My own theory is that Pflugerville voters erroneously thought that building a 10,000 seat stadium like this would turn Pflugerville ISD into some kind of football power house. That’s wishful thinking, but it takes much more than a mega-stadium to make a great football team.

    The problem with having a mega-stadium is that you need frequent BIG events to fill it, and to justify the initial construction cost and ongoing maintenance. The vast majority of times, the Hendrickson, Pflugerville High, and Connally PISD stadiums are more than adequate to accommodate their fan base. Admittedly, Hendrickson has run out of seating capacity a few times in the past, but there was not a single sell-out game this past football season. As the city of Pflugerville grows with new entertainment options, locals seem to be slowly finding ways to spend their Friday nights in places other than in local high school stadiums cheering on the local team, a disturbing trend for anybody trying to justify a new 10,000 seat local school stadium. (Consider competition from the new bowling alley, recently expanded Austin Park & Pizza, new restaurants, etc.)

    In partial defense of the new stadium it is true that there are always serious parking problems at Hendrickson stadium on Friday nights that need to be addressed, but that could be possibly remedied by dealing with the farm owner next door and offering overflow parking in one of those nearby empty corn fields. Keep in mind too that after the 4th PISD high school opens up, it will offload Hendrickson quite a bit, and the existing Hendrickson stadium probably will never get filled again. In other words, the chronic parking problems probably won’t exist in a couple more years.

    So what is Pflugerville ISD going to do with their new mega-stadium? Are they going to start hosting normal Friday night football games there? If so, every game will be an “Away” game, costing taxpayers extra money for student transportation. (Football players, cheerleaders, dance teams, and band students from Connally and Hendrickson are all going to need some way to get to and from the new stadium, though the Pflugerville High students can just walk across the street.)

    And who will manage the concession operations at the new stadiums? The same company that manages the school cafeterias? Right now, the school booster clubs depend heavily on food and merchandise profits from sporting events held at their own respective stadiums. Without that extra money the band and athletic departments of each respective school will suffer. In my opinion, PISD has made a HORRIBLE decision by building this new mega-stadium, but it is already under construction, so we need to figure out how to best use it.

    • ready to graduate senior

      What school officials fail to realize is that half of the students who attend football games don’t actually go to watch the game – we go there to be with friends and socialize. Now they have all these guard rails up in the stadium, and the only time your allowed out of your seat is if you’re going to the bathroom or buying something. Good luck filling up the big new stadium with rules like that.

      • Sports Salesman

        That’s true! At the Dell Diamond they have all kinds of amenities to accommodate young folks that don’t want to sit there hour after hour, watching a game. In the outfield they have a pool, spa, playground, picnic area, rock climbing wall, pitching area, bungee trampoline, and even a basketball court. Seriously, what is a parent with a young child to do when the kid starts getting crabby and doesn’t want to sit in the stands anymore? Just leave the game early? It’s also interesting to note that even though the Dell Diamond has lots of room for fans to sit on the berm, the actual seating capacity of that stadium is 8,631 , significantly less than the 10,000 seat capacity stadium that Pflugerville is building. So sit down, shut up, and just watch the game in the beautiful new Pflugerville stadium. (that’s going to be mostly empty most of the time.)

    • “…there was not a single sell-out game this past football season”. Yes Jules, but the truth is that we had a great team last year, but attendance was down because they raised the ticket prices. Greed, greedy, greedier, greediest.

      • A lot of the enthusiasm for local high school football is indirectly tied to the Longhorns. If they’re doing good, then the local high school stadiums start filling up too. Last season the Longhorns didn’t even make it to a bowl game.

  2. F.L. Barnes Jr.

    Pflugerville has had a penchant for outrageously large scale development projects for some years, and the new school stadium is just another example. Assuming it follows the path of some other big projects, it will probably go down in history as another project that fell far short of expectations. Pflugerville’s history is full of large scale projects that either never got off the ground, or failed miserably. For example, there was the $10 million dog shelter, the $2 billion Sunshine development that was supposed to rival The Domain, the waterpark which was supposed to make Pflugerville a Central Texas tourist mecca, a large corporate data center, the largest solar farm in the world, a major horse racing track, etc. I will however give them a lot of credit for successful completion of the beautiful Lake Pflugerville recreation area, and the huge Stone Hill shopping center. One can only hope that the new school stadium will be put to good use, but to me it just seems like another ill conceived “wanna be like the big boys” project.

  3. The brick facade in the artist’s rendering of the new Timmerman Elementary looks great! Realtors constantly complain about the bare concrete walls that surround much of Rowe Lane Elementary. A little extra money spent on quality school construction can actually help local property values.

  4. I always had trouble accepting the fact that High School #4 cost twice as much to build as Hendrickson High, which is of comparable size and only about 12 (?) years old. Yes, I voted for the whole bond package though, because the school district said they were desperate and it would hurt the kids if the bonds were turned down. I think there was some kind of political action group backing that bond election, tied to the construction companies that stood to make a profit from all that new construction. (For example I think they paid for all those red and white signs that bond supporters put on their front lawns.) You could go ahead and blame special interests for all the wild spending, but the school board also made some questionable decisions by putting that ridiculous oversized stadium on the same ballot, and approving the huge price tag on the new high school. The board legitimately argued that putting it all on the same ballot with the other much needed schools saved election costs, and they needed to get it done before construction costs went up even higher, but I think those special interests had a big role in this too. I’m not suggesting that we have an incompetent school board. Clearly they have our student’s best interest at heart, and we owe them our gratitude for their service. However, when you mix together special interests, the clear and immediate need for new schools, rapidly increasing construction costs, and zealous football fans, this huge overspending is the mess you end up with. I think we’ll all eventually look back at this time in history as a period in which Pflugerville had some serious growing pains, and the oversized stadium & unprofitable city backed water park will always stand out as stark examples of that.

    • Construction is booming in this area and costs are booming with it. I can see how a new high school will cost more now than it did 10-15 years ago. 400,000 square feet of a code enforced, non-residential facility, is definitely going to be subject to inflation. You just can’t buy a cheeseburger combo for $1 anymore…

  5. When we went shopping for a new home, getting our kid into a good school was a top priority. You can look at all the state assessment scores until you’re blue in the face, but it is also important to drive by the school your kid will attend, and take a firsthand look. One high school we saw in Pflugervile had the back yard littered with portable classrooms. It may not be a fair comment, but when I see a school with portable classrooms, it suggests the school district has somehow badly mismanaged their growth. Nobody wants their kids to study in a trailer. It’s good to see Pflugervile constructing some more permanent school buildings.

    • Its all about Pfun

      Yep. Doing what they want while they are in office to collect rewards, then offloading it onto the next person.

  6. $25.8 million for a new 10,000 seat football stadium. That’s $2,580 per seat. Hard to comprehend. They charge $9 per ticket, and there are usually 5 – 6 home games per season, per school. The majority of the seats in the much smaller school stadium across the street are mostly empty for most games. However they decide to use this big new stadium, they would have to make an annual profit of more than $25 for every stadium seat for more than 100 years to pay it off. But much of the current $9 entry fee for football isn’t profit and has to pay for necessary game expenses, such as paying the police overtime. I guess you can’t look at this big stadium purchase as a business decision, because it doesn’t come close to being economically viable. Surely there must have been a better way to spend that amount of money to better benefit the local school children?

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