The Leander Independent School District school board discussed spending $62,500 in bond money to re-evaluate the architectural needs of High School No. 6, scheduled for completion in 2015, at its meeting Jan. 5.
LISD staff recommended that Arizona-based ThinkSMART Planning Inc. lead a design charette—which is a forum with LISD faculty, endorsed by engineers, architects and the construction manager—to develop a new, more efficient blueprint for the anticipated campus.
But some school board members questioned ThinkSMART’s $62,500 fee since LISD funded a $130,000 design charette in 2008 for the same school.
“We’ve done it, and we haven’t built a school from the work we’ve done already, and now we’re going to throw it away,” said Pam Waggoner, LISD school board vice president. “That just seems like a waste of money to me.”
Several board members noted campus design priorities could have changed since 2008, citing budget constraints and desires for efficiency. The board requested staff provide details from the previous charette and evidence a redesign would save the district more than the cost of the two charettes combined.
LISD Executive Director of Capital Improvements Jimmy Disler said a new charette could potentially save the district about $900,000, equal to 1 percent of the anticipated $90 million cost of construction. Savings culminate in decreased square footage and efficiently used space, he said.
An abridged design discussion without guidance from ThinkSMART Planning could hinder potential long-term savings and exclude key experts from the process, Disler said.
“We bring that perspective because we want that side of the team in that process,” Disler said of the experts. “If you don’t include them, the instructional side will go through this process and come up with a design, and they’ll start cutting things when they don’t know what happens after. You’ve got to educate everybody that is going to be involved because it will impact the functionality and efficiency.”
The board also directed district staff to cipher additional costs excluded from the $62,500 proposal, including travel expenses for industry experts and charette facilitators.
The board will revisit the issue at its next meeting Jan. 19.