DISD to ‘Break Ground’ on First Work
Denison schools are about to embark on the largest endeavor in 60 years with the beginning of work within the $80 school bond approved by voters last May.
“We are getting ready to break ground for the off-street drive through at both B. McDaniel Middle School and Houston Elementary School,” said Dr. Henry Scott, superintendent. “Then, the bids will be in next week for the three major additions.”
Scott estimated that the ground-breaking would be Wednesday, Nov. 16; he also said that the three additions will be at Mayes, Lamar and Hyde Park elementary schools. He estimated that the three elementary additions could begin in mid-December.
“Those three schools should be completed by the fall of 2012,” said Scott.
Scott announced that the new high school building is in the design phase currently and will go to bid in the March/April time frame. The ground-breaking will be shortly after that. It will be a 22 month build out, he added.
“We are doing well; everything is right on track,” said Scott. “There is no reason to believe we will see a delay. It looks to be completed by 2014 ready for school in the fall.”
As one of the steps in the overall process, DISD held a ‘job fair’ for contractors earlier in November. Each could come to see what was involved in bidding for portions of the $80 million project. Scott noted that the contractors also had the opportunity to connect with others in the business. He said there were more than 100 contractors present at the fair.
“There is a great deal of interest; this is good for the district and good for competition,” explained Scott. “The bidding process should be strong.”
The other work in the project calls for renovations to the other elementary schools except for Terrell Elementary, which opened in 2000. There is a budget for each portion of the project, Scott said.
“And that’s what we will spend on those pieces,” he added.
Scott noted that the bond included verbiage which closes Golden Rule and Layne elementary schools. The closings will coincide with the opening of the new high school and the reconfiguration of the elementary grades.
“We won’t move the fifth grade until the high school opens,” said Scott. “We can’t really; there are 330 students in the district in fifth grade.”
Scott said there was discussion of ‘demolition’ of the two elementary buildings, but they will only be demolished if the school system can’t find a ‘usable purpose’ for them, which would include on-going operation and maintenance.
“We have been in talks with the city (of Denison) and the Denison Boys and Girls Club, who may want the gym at Golden Rule,” announced Scott. “If these type of things work out, the school board will consider them instead of demolishing the buildings.”
According to Scott, there is an oversight committee formed for the bond as part of the process. The 12 member committee will meet every three months and ensure that the bond money approved by voters is being spent in the manner it is required. The next meeting is Dec. 8 and the committee will report to the school board in December the progress of the bond to that point.
“This will be a transparent process at all levels,” said Scott. “To make sure the district is doing what the bond is for.”
Scott added that the oversight committee has a ‘mixture of the community’ and is made up of citizens with one assistant principal and two teachers. The committee will report to the school board every three months.
One bond concern is from the school district’s employees, but Scott reiterated that ‘no one will lose their job because of the bond.’
“It will be done through attrition,” said Scott.
The new high school will be on a tract of land in the southeast corner of US 75 and SH 91 in the northern part of Denison. The actual building will be on the hill near the back of the 130 acre property. The athletic facilities will be built in the areas in front of the building, according to the blueprints for the project.