Fort Bend ISD suspends 15% rule; approves facility needs assessment
By Betsy Dolan
In preparation for what could be a bond proposal put to voters next year, Fort Bend ISD’s Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a plan to hire Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. to prepare a five year facilities needs assessment for the district.
The $1.7 million dollar assessment will be a top to bottom analysis of the district’s schools. It will provide a comprehensive look at everything from HVAC units, to classroom square footage, to technology inadequacies.
“We need to do an assessment now to determine the current facility conditions and give an estimated cost to fix these items regardless of the funding mechanism,” said Max Cleaver, Chief Auxiliary Services Officer. ”Using a third party vendor will help keep things transparent.”
Cleaver told the BOT that a complete assessment would require over 10,000 man hours and the district does not have the manpower to do the job.
Sam Wilson with Jacobs Engineering said it would take 10 months to complete the assessment including time in the fall to update the community on the progress.
Jacobs will make sure the district receives an “accurate space inventory” of every school using CAD software that the district will then be able to utilize. The information obtained in the 2002 assessment would also be loaded into the new data base.
“Early in my career, I worked at the Pentagon which is one of the largest buildings in the nation and it has 5 million square feet. You have 11 million square feet of space. So you have the equivalent of two Pentagons that you are trying to manage,” Wilson said.
15% STAAR test rule suspended
The BOT also voted to suspend district policy that required the STAAR test to account for 15 percent of a student’s end-of -course (EOC) assessment for the 2012-2013 school year.
The Texas Education Agency allowed school districts the option of suspending the 15% rule for the second year in a row.
Acting Superintendent Mike McKie said that the 15 percent rule required credit to be awarded on a year-long basis. The district wants to return to semester credit.
“It’s our intent to go back to awarding semester credit,” McKie said. “That’s what we did years ago before the 15 percent. It’s student friendly, and it’s the best thing for the students, which is the bottom line.”
The 15% EOC requirement is still in place for the 2013-14 school year.
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