“We’ve been entrusted with a lot of money from our taxpayers at a very difficult time,” Superintendent Thad Roher said during a Nov. 16 board meeting. “We want to do it right.”
Upcoming improvements as a result of the bond funds include classroom additions to Westwood Elementary School, Windsong Intermediate School and Bales Intermediate School, as well as renovations to Friendswood High School to address career and technical education, fine arts and athletics needs. The new elementary campus will be built on the West Ranch site owned by FISD and will replace the existing Cline Elementary School; the name will be kept to honor district alum and former board president Conrad “Connie” Wanton Cline.
The new Cline campus will be finished first, according to schedules presented to the board by PBK in November. Planning has been taking place in the form of campus visits: Design committees have visited several area ISD buildings to analyze their features and give architects a chance to figure out the district’s needs for the new campus.
The campus will be substantially complete by May 2023, per the schedules, and renovations to Bales, Westwood and Windsong will be substantially complete by July 2023. The FHS auditorium and gymnasium renovations will be substantially complete by July 2023, with the CTE renovations substantially complete by January 2024.
The district will partner with Houston-based PBK Architects for planning, schematic design, development and construction, and the firm will receive input from design committees composed of FISD officials and board members.
District officials agreed the programming and planning phases, especially for the intermediate and high school campuses, will be essential to capture and implement a vision of what future educational needs could look like for students.
FISD could see changes in its enrollment numbers between now and the completion of the projects, said board president Tony Hopkins, so the longer-term nature of the renovations is a positive in that the district may have to reassess the needs of its changing student population.
“We don’t want the building to inhibit us, in 10 years, from what education is going to look like,” Roher said during a Dec. 7 workshop. “We don't want anything to hamstring us into one area.”
The Cline design team will meet twice in mid-January, and the FHS design team will begin meeting in February.
FISD is working with Post Oak Municipal Advisors to issue the bonds; once they are issued and sold, the district gains access to the necessary funds. Firm president Terrell Palmer said Dec. 14 they will be issued after the first of the year at the highest possible rating, which will result in the lowest possible interest rates for buyers. The money will hopefully be in the district’s bank accounts by February, he added.