As work begins on upcoming Ninth-Grade Center, Hutto ISD facing budget hurdles

Hutto ISDu2019s ninth-grade center is expected to open to students in January 2021.

Hutto ISDu2019s ninth-grade center is expected to open to students in January 2021.

Image description
Budget Cuts

Before any construction on the facade of Hutto ISD’s upcoming ninth-grade center has begun, district officials say they are already faced with likely future budget cuts for the building itself.

HISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations Henry Gideon told the board of trustees in February construction bids for the ninth-grade center, to be located at the southeast corner of N. FM 1660 and CR 100, came in over budget.

“Construction inflation pricing has been very disappointing,” Gideon told Community Impact Newspaper March 4. “We are doing some value engineering in the hopes of getting our construction budget back in line.”

Trustees in September 2018 voted to sell the remaining $54.9 million of the district’s 2008 bond money to fund construction of the ninth-grade center. Gideon said HISD’s budget for the new school is set at $48.51 million. The gap between those two numbers is money set aside for soft costs, or non-construction services such as consultants, furniture for the school or right of way improvements. 

Bids that came in for the district in February totaled $50 million before soft costs. Trustees approved the first bid package for preliminary work for $16.64 million, but the district will send a bid back out for the agriculture barn and construction of the building.

Early designs for the ninth-grade center, which will eventually expand into the district’s second high school, included a three-building campus with an agriculture barn and outdoor athletic facilities.

Gideon now says those athletic facilities—a football field, a track, lighting, concessions, bleachers and space for other outdoor sports—will be removed from the first round of construction. He estimates that will shave $1.8 million off the budget. Other cuts include transitioning to a less expensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, or HVAC, in the the ninth-grade center.

District officials have also made cuts to the design of the agriculture barn.

“We will still have pens and instructional spaces for the [agriculture] students and their animals, but we’ve temporarily removed the show barn,” Gideon said.

Despite the expected budget cuts, construction on the ninth-grade center is underway, and the district fully expects to hit its timeline.

With the $16.64 million approved in February, crews are currently working on foundation, utilities, stormwater systems, drainage and moving earth, according to Gideon. Work began on the site in mid-February.

Gideon says the board will vote on the second and final bid package for the ninth-grade center later this spring. That bid package will include the entire school building and the agriculture barn. This second bid will also establish the guaranteed maximum price, or the cap on the budget the district will pay its contractors to finish the school.

District officials say the ninth-grade center will open its doors to an estimated 600-700 freshmen students in the 2021 spring semester.

By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


Overall in Travis County there has been a total of 10,695 cases since mid-March.. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Travis County adds 571 COVID-19 cases; new restriction put in place ahead of holiday weekend

Overall in Travis County there has been a total of 10,695 cases since mid-March.

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

A photo of a person wearing a medical mask
Travis County Judge supports state masking order, says county will enforce

After Gov. Greg Abbot's statewise mandate to wear masks that cover mouth and nose, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe voiced his support.

Williamson County has now recorded 2,388 total COVID-19 cases, including 1,342 that are currently active. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Williamson County reports 49 additional confirmed coronavirus cases July 2

Currently, 107 patients are hospitalized and 32 are in intensive care, per the report.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott: Texans must wear masks in public starting July 3

"COVID-19 is not going away," Gov. Abbott said. "In fact, it is getting worse."

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

Episcopal Health Foundation
Survey: Texans support emphasis on improving economy, safety, pollution to address overall health

“COVID-19 is clearly showing what Texans already know: the state needs to address underlying, non-medical conditions that have a dramatic impact on their health,” Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks said.

In the course of a month, the number of patients admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19 has increased more than fivefold, according to Austin Public Health data. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Deluge of new COVID-19 cases forces Austin-area health officials to limit testing, shift tracing strategy

Fighting antiquated fax machines and a sharp rise in the demand for testing, officials said contact tracers are not able to get in touch with residents quickly enough to prevent the spread of the virus.

CommunityCare Health Centers drive-up coronavirus testing site
CommUnityCare will no longer test asymptomatic people for COVID-19 as testing demand swells

CommUnityCare Health Centers is now only testing individuals who show symptoms, those who have a known exposure to the coronavirus or those with other existing health conditions.

The H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks will not take place this year due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Ricardo Brazziel)
Read the latest on 4th of July celebrations in Central Texas

Area cities have canceled or modified their Independence Day events.

In communities across the nation, Walmart Supercenter parking lots will be transformed into contact-free, drive-in movie theaters beginning in August. (Courtesy Walmart)
Walmart to bring drive-in movies to 160 stores nationwide in August, launch virtual summer camp

Families can also enjoy a virtual summer camp experience Walmart is launching July 8 with sessions led by celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Neil Patrick Harris and LeBron James.

The original St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church was built in 1910 by the Historic Colored Addition's original settlers. (Courtesy city of Pflugerville, Friends of the Pflugerville Public Library, Pflugerville Public Library)
Preserving history: A look at Pflugerville's Historic Colored Addition

Known as the Historic Colored Addition, the land stands a reminder of the city's history, a period of time when Black residents were barred from living within the city limits.