San Marcos CISD trustees debate cost, financing options for new admin building after mold found

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As San Marcos CISD prepared to move into a temporary building that will be home to  administrative staff for the next two years, the SMCISD board of trustees was weighing five options for the replacement of the school’s administration building currently located on South LBJ Drive.

The move comes following confirmed reports of mold in the building, which was found during two air-quality tests.

Weighing the options

Trustees are debating whether to renovate the existing 6,500-square-foot building or build anew and nearly quadruple the square footage to accommodate future growth. The options range from an estimated $2.5 million to $9.41 million and were presented at the board’s
November meeting.

“I will [not]and cannot ever support the option of moving $10 million of fund balance into a central administration building,” trustee Miguel Arredondo said, pointing to the priciest of the options, a $9.41 million option to demolish the building and rebuild an expanded version on the existing site.

Trustee Lupe Costilla said she wanted to do what was best for employees’ health and safety.

“For whatever reason the community does not see the importance of people working in this building as being important. We are at a point in time that there is a need,” she said.

Trustee John McGlothlin said the air-quality issues would be resolved under any of the options.

“One [option]seems to be the preferred course because it might bring us a higher level of convenience and allow us some room for growth, but that’s an expensive price tag for convenience,” he said. “And if it’s room for growth, it should be handled in a bond.”

Perkins+Will, which is developing the district’s 2016 bond projects, said whether the board chose to renovate the existing building, demolish and rebuild on the site of the existing building or build a new central office complex on SMCISD-owned land on South Suttles Avenue, construction would not be completed until summer 2019.

How to pay for it

Robert Tijerina, who serves as financial counsel for the school district, said the board could use up to $9 million from its fund balance for the new administration building and still have about $26.5 million in the balance, according to the district’s 2016 audit.

The board could consider approving a reimbursement resolution in which the district can use either board-approved or voter-approved bonds and replenish the fund balance that way for up to three years.

“It’s no cost to the school district; it’s just a safety net,” he said of the reimbursement resolution. “If you have something down the road you finance, you can put the funds back in the general fund if the board chooses to do so.”

Juan Aguilera, who serves as the district’s bond legal counsel, said another option is lease-revenue bonds, in which the board forms a public facility corporation that issues bonds for the project.

Once the facility is built, the school district would lease the building and make annual payments on it.

“This is more of a mortgage or a real estate transaction,” Aguilera said.

The third option would be a general obligation bond, which requires voter approval but would allow the district to keep its fund balance intact.

Assistant Superintendent Karen Griffith said Dec. 4 she is bringing more options for the new building to the board during its January meeting.

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Marie Albiges
Marie Albiges was the editor for the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covered San Marcos City Council, San Marcos CISD and Hays County Commissioners Court. Marie previously reported for the Central Austin edition. Marie moved to Austin from Williamsburg, Va. in 2016 and was born in France. She has since moved on from Community Impact in May 2018.
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