By Betsy Dolan
In its preliminary findings, Jacobs Engineering Group revealed $449 million worth of facility needs during a Board of Trustees workshop December 16. Since January, Jacobs has been conducting a five-year facilities needs assessment at all 92 of the district’s locations.
While the December 16 board workshop was a discussion of the preliminary findings, the final report will be the foundation of a future district facilities master plan.
The Jacobs study addressed three different areas: the life-cycle of its systems, educational adequacy, and facility assessment.
“If educational adequacy is identifying what may be missing from a school, facility assessment teams identify what is broken”, said Casey Morris, Manager of Projects for Jacobs Engineering.
The life-cycle team looked at how well mechanical systems are functioning and predicted which items, from roofs to HVAC systems, will need to be repaired or replaced within five years.
“We have 30,000 records of deficient conditions within your buildings. That’s a sizeable amount of data but no big red flags for how things are going in Fort Bend. It’s typical findings for a district of your size”, Morris told the Board.
Jacobs is taking paper and computer generated floor plans from the district and converting them to one consistent format to be uploaded into Jacobs map software program for the district’s use.
Part of the data gathering for the software program involved calculating square footage, space inventory and classroom capacity in order to determine which rooms are over and under utilized.
Trustee Jenny Bailey questioned the difference between Jacobs’ capacity numbers with those of the district’s former demographer, Justin Silhavy.
“It’s no wonder the community doesn’t trust us”, Bailey said. “If I’ve been zoned to a different school and now I find out that classrooms haven’t been used at capacity, I’ve lost all faith in this district”.
Max Cleaver, the district’s Chief Operations Officer, said that he is comfortable with the Jacobs numbers.
“Every high school has 12 to 15 rooms that were called “special teaching stations” but they did not count for capacity. I don’t know why because there are students in there every period”, Cleaver said.
Board president, Jim Rice, asked several safety questions including key card access to doors and whether schools needed additional security cameras.
Facilities Director, John Holmes, said that a survey has been done on the security camera issue and they hope to present their findings along with the results of the technology survey in March.
Bailey asked if the district had the money to pay for the facilities needs assessment findings.
“Ultimately we are going to have to prioritize and make some hard decisions about whether we are going to use existing bond funds”, said Superintendent Charles Dupre. “We know we are headed toward a bond but there are other ways to fund some of this work that we’ll consider doing as well.”
Dupre said the next step would be for the staff to put together a comprehensive package for the board’s consideration about what projects the district decides to take on, the timeline and how it will be funded.