FIRST Meeting - January 26, 2016
Bond Package Update & Data
FIRST Co-Chair Louie Sullins opened the meeting with a ‘howdy’ and then turned time over to Chief Operations Office Paula Barbaroux.
Ms. Barbaroux reviewed each of the items in the team packets at the table. She informed members that we are currently at $262.4M after the most recent team voting and pointed the group to the summary sheet listing highlights of the projects by subcommittee and a chart breaking down the division of projects by dollar value.
Also provided to FIRST members are submissions through Let’s Talk regarding the Facility Planning Process. This week’s comments involved libraries, fine arts and multipurpose activity centers,
Review Tax Rate Implications
Ms. Barbaroux reviewed handouts that explained possible tax rate increases based on various bond package amounts. For example, a $250M bond program would garner an increase of 12.87 cents for the Interest & Sinking (or Debt Service) tax rate.
Bond Package Goals
Ms. Barbaroux reminded team members of their original charge.
Ms. Barbaroux then turned time back over to Mr. Sullins, along with FIRST Co-Chair Shea Kirkman. Mr. Sullins reflected on the opinions and responses from an early community poll on the possible support of a bond. This support established a foundation of a possible bond program total. He also explained that the team needs to be mindful of the level of tax increase made to the district’s Interest & Sinking tax rate. Mr. Sullins explained that FIRST needs to work together to make the best plan and decisions to keep GCISD a community of choice.
Mr. Kirkman explained that this evening is another work session to help the team assess and review the priorities of the projects. He reminded team members that it’s their duty to present a bond proposal that meets the needs of GCISD students and LEAD 2021.
Group representatives were then invited to speak about their projects and priorities for the bond package.
Subcommittee Advocacy & Input
Group 5 (Specialty Instruction) distributed a handout to team members to explain their methodology in prioritizing projects. The representative explained that they looked for projects with a broad reach of students and the community, as well as equalizing facilities, accommodating for growth and bringing practice and performance facilities to industry standards. They explained that their group was given more than $365M worth of requests and only sent $20M in projects to the team to review and vote on; however, only $1.5M was approved by the team. Group 5 is asking for a little more and they encouraged the team to look at the auditorium renovations as a whole, as well as student performance uniforms and elementary school curtains.
Group 6 (Sports and Student Activities) representative explained that their primary review was to focus on the safety and security of the students. They looked at lighting and fencing as safety concerns. Once the Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) was approved by the team, they worked hard to cut as many other projects as possible. The Group next pitched an idea to help with possibly including turf fields for band. This idea involved eliminating the football turf field replacement at two middle schools (these fields are 3-4 years old and would need replacement during the next bond program based on current use, wear and tear), restricting community groups currently using the football fields to primarily the band fields to prolong the life of the competition fields that must meet safety standards for impact. The net savings to the bond package through this exchange of fields would be approximately $800,000. Group 5 explained that they appreciated the idea but shared that when talking with Fine Arts directors they feel they would better appreciate enhancements to performance practice space within the schools.
Group 3’s representative explained that their priorities were classroom furniture, upgrade of elementary school playground equipment, and to provide allotments to campuses to create collaborative work spaces in libraries. These three projects and their other recommendations totaled $29M of which the team has only approved $19M. Currently, only the classroom furniture projects have received approval from the team. Classroom furniture is $16M. The group recommends a focus on the library projects (new furniture, book and media collection development and equipment and renovations to create collaboration spaces). This would add $9.1M to the total.
Group 4’s representative explained that their group came in at $69M and has now found a way to cut another $2.1M. Group 4 has worked diligently on their projects they feel they have recommended the bear essentials. They asked the group to reconsider one line item, DO1.512, to add graphing calculators and future student devices the district cannot provide now. This would add about $985,000 to Group 4’s projects after the $2.1M reduction for device management.
Group 2’s representative explained that their projects helped plan for growth, such as expansion projects for GES, TES and GMS. The biggest project is the new Cannon Elementary School to replace a facility with significant structural issues and limitations. Additional projects included restroom additions at Cross Timbers MS, and Bear Creek ES GPS to track school buses, extending PA systems to connect to areas without service and horns to reach outdoor areas, and the Multipurpose Activity Centers (MACs). Ms. Dunn reminded team members that the MACs will need to explained properly to the community--reminding residents that the focus of the centers are for all student activities.
Group 1’s representative explained that their projects currently total about $64M, which include repairs to spalling concrete, heating, electrical and plumbing, non-bus vehicles, and school busses. They began with $250M and have cut all non-essential projects.
Mr. Kirkman then asked for each group to take about 15 minutes to have discussions about the information shared.
The team then reconvened, giving groups an opportunity to make their final requests.
Group 5 explained that their remaining priorities are the the acoustic shells, risers and FF&E, totaling about $2M.
Group 6 asked to look at the returfing of the baseball and softball fields. They also challenged the other groups to share what they would be willing to give up, and to better know their lowest priorities. If votes are changed, the team needs to base these changes on the group input.
Group 3 explained that their conversation focused back on the library spaces--combining the line items and cutting an overall percentage in order to best support the library and garner support for including these in the bond package.
Group 4 felt the only thing they could cut would be from today’s add-in (student classroom devices), cutting it down to $500,000.
Group 2 discussed the MACs at the schools. They feel the GHS facility necessitates a dressing room; however, the CHHS facility does not. It would save $200,000 if the CHHS facility did not include dressing rooms. They also asked if the allotment for the spalling concrete could be reduced to $7M, and perhaps use TIF money to make up the difference.
The team proposed questions about cutting the MEP deficiencies line items and Ms. Barbaroux reminded the team that cutting heating and air conditioning allotments may leave the district open to not being able to manage this vital system and emergencies properly. This area already has been reduced by more than 30%.
Mr. Sullins then asked the team if they were prepared to stay at the $262M--bringing that amount to the community - seeing that no Group had significant reductions to offer. Mr. Kirkman responded to the group reminding them that reaching this level of a bond program will not consume the entire debt capacity of the district but remains a sizeable increase.Mr. Sullins again asked if $262M was an acceptable amount for this group. The team then engaged in discussion on the concerns of seeking a $260M bond over a $240M bond. By a show of hands, the team was split among all three bond amounts of $240M, $250M and $260M. Based on their not being consensus, Mr. Kirkman then asked the team to begin making their final voting adjustments. The team expressed concerns on the ability to vote on final items without some of these discussed adjustments. Ms. Barbaroux acknowledged this concern, but again requested the vote be made in order to help the group and district staff reach a proposal and best evaluate the priorities of the team. The team also agreed to meet again next Tuesday, February 2 at 6 PM.
Consensus Voting Framework Continued
Team members then returned to their group discussions and voting adjustments. The meeting closed as groups finished their voting.