In a lengthy meeting July 11, representatives of three construction companies made presentations to the Blanco ISD trustees. Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford reported that 16 contractors were sent packets in June, with nine responding. Based on a set of established criteria, the top three contractors were KenCom, Vanguard, and Baird-Williams, all of whom have done extensive school construction/renovation projects in Central Texas. Each trustee was given a scoring sheet, with a maximum of 10 points on each of a number of selection criteria for a total of 100 points to choose the Manager-At-Risk. As architect Randy Fromberg pointed out, “You have an excellent pool of contractors—any of them would do a great job.”
After two votes, the first of which resulted in a tie, Vanguard Contractors, LP, of Temple, Texas, was selected. Founded in 1997, the company has an annual sales volume of $40-45 million, with a bonding capacity of $50 million. Among their projects are the Blanco County Office Annex in Johnson City and school projects for the Llano, Troy, Groesbeck, Valley Mills, Belton, and Temple ISD’s, and others involving both new construction and renovations. Sims called a renovation in Valley Mills “uncannily similar” to that planned for the original Mission-style school which is at the heart of Blanco’s project, which included the restored masonry façade of a historic building. Project executive Tom Rehak stressed that the firm will endeavor to use sub-contractors from the area whenever possible. He also assured trustees that any savings on the project will go back to the district. “This job fits us best,” said Rehak. “Jack and I will be with you every step of the way.” He made a point that waterproofing is “an absolute necessity,” sealing windows and joints. “We do not have waterproofing problems,” he concluding, perhaps alluding to persistent leaks at Blanco High School, which was built by KenCon. In response to a question by trustee Darrel Wagner about locking in the price of materials, Sims responded that purchase orders are written as soon as the bidding process is complete. In answer to other questions, Sims responded that the company is experienced in working in an active school environment and that all workers wear badges. “We do not tolerate inferior work,” concluded Sims. The estimate of construction administration costs for Vanguard is $317,225 out of an $8 million budget. The projected time frame for the project is 619 days.
Architect Bob Shelton of Fromberg Associates gave an update on the schematic design of the elementary school project, citing changes such as moving one classroom in order to save a large live oak tree and modifying the size of the proposed cafeteria, which will seat 600 students and will have a kitchen the size of the one at Blanco High School. The current cafeteria space will be divided into an art room and a music/band room. A new bus loading and unloading area will increase safety by being separated from the area where parents drop off and pick up students.
Dr. Ford reported that at a special meeting on August 17, trustees will consider an order authorizing the issuance of bonds to an underwriter. Bond consultants will sell the bonds earlier that day at a “competitive” bond sale. The district’s bond consultant, Jennifer Douglas, of Specialized Public Finance, Inc., will present the results of the bond sale at the meeting. The district’s bond attorney, Greg Salinas of McCall, Parkhurst, and Horton, will work with the Texas Attorney General’s office to get the bonds certified by the state. The district expects to have the bond funds in hand by September 8.
A second special meeting is scheduled August 22 to conduct a public hearing and adopt the budget and tax rate. The district would like to delay as long as possible, according to financial officer Kay Fraser, in order to get an idea from the appraisal district about anticipated moneys. The impact of budget cuts arrived at in the Texas legislature’s special session will also be clearer at that time, with proposed cuts to education of between $.5 million and $1.3 million. Trustees reviewed the 2011-12 Comparative Preliminary Estimated Budget, which contains a $1.3 million reduction across all programs, with a reduction in staff of 6 “personnel units.” “I’m hoping we can live with the results,” said Fraser.
In other financial news, the district hopes to get a State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) grant to replace aging air conditioning units. Maintenance director Tony Petri has done an inventory of all units and submitted bids to companies for replacement of units over ten years old. Trustees also approved a budget amendment to align line items to actual revenue and expenditures near year end.
Trustees also approved the following: the tax resale of Lot 30, block 2, in Lake of the Hills, Blanco, Texas, in the amount of $600; a calendar for teacher appraisals in accordance with the Professional Development and Appraisal System; a list of alternate appraisers; TASB Policy Update 90; and a revision of the CDA (Local) Investment Policy. According to Dr. Ford, the district has been limited to investments which do not exceed one year. Because of the anticipated bond proceeds available soon and the low investment market, the one-year limitation may cause the district to miss out on higher yields. The recommendation, which trustees approved, was to change the maximum maturity of individual investments not to exceed two years from time of purchase.
Finally, trustees approved the resignation of Blanco High School math teacher Marie Graham and the hiring of Nikole Yarter for the same position.