Call to Action by Parents and Community
The LEEF Board of Directors would first like to extend our thanks to the entire community for your patience and understanding while we deal with recent developments involving the Bridge Plan. You may be aware by now that DISD staff recommended late this week to delay and potentially re-scope Lakewood Elementary’s addition and renovation due to bids that came in over budget.
While we are disappointed and frustrated, we must continue to stay focused in an effort to keep the Bridge Plan moving forward on schedule and built to the current design with no reduction in scope.
Below we have outlined answers to some potential questions you may be asking, as well as action steps we are currently taking to combat these issues. BUT WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP and cannot do this alone. We’d like to request that each of you email your thoughts to Superintendent Hinojosa as soon as possible to let him know that a delay and/or change of project scope breaks the commitment to our community made by the district last year and is not an acceptable solution.
What do we know?
- On May 12th, DISD staff formally recommended a delay in Bridge Plan projects to the Board of Trustees, for final decision to be made by Superintendent Hinojosa
- These delays currently affect not only Lakewood Elementary but three other area schools and are due to projects coming in above the Bridge Plan budgeted amount. The Lakewood Elementary work was scoped in accordance to the district’s desires and the clear and immediate needs of the community and was estimated to be a $15M project, despite the Bridge Plan’s $12.6M allocation for Lakewood
- Lakewood Elementary’s bids were approximately $3.5M over the allocated $9.47M for construction costs. Note that there were four bidders on the project and therefore we can feel confident that the overages are due to ongoing high construction demand affecting market pricing
- Since the bids came in mid-April, we have actively pursued an audience with the district and until late this week, we have been repeatedly assured that the timing and project scope would not be affected and the temp CO date for Lakewood Elementary remained July 27, 2017
- The need for facility improvements is critical and requires immediate attention
- Teachers are already packing and the blacktop is marked for delivery of portables. Lakewood Elementary leadership has not been prepped for or advised of these delays, which only adds to the already wide communication gap
- We have held multiple community meetings led by DISD staff, their consultants and architects to brief our families on the approved Bridge Plan, timelines and potential disruption due to construction
- When the bridge plan passed, members of the Board of Trustees said in the public meeting that they expected our community’s support for the bond. We came out in force to support the bond and have held up our end of the deal.
Why are delays and scope changes a problem?
- Delays of 5 months to a year affect 2 consecutive schools years for students, teachers, and staff
- Delay does not assure cost savings - market costs are high and it is possible that they could continue to rise
- Approximately 350 families have contributed between $500 and $50,000 toward an addition and renovation to Lakewood Elementary. We are holding more than half a million dollars of the community’s money to be allocated to finish out of the addition and renovation
- Communication – we did not learn of these developments and potential scope changes and delays until 5/11/16, just days before portables were to be delivered; no cohesive plan and various arms of the district administration are not working together
- We do not have a Trustee representing our community’s concerns since the District 2 seat is vacant
- $11M dollars in funds proposed for administrative building improvements on buildings the district plans to move out of is a poor decision and ignores the best interests of our children
- Current scope of the Lakewood Elementary project serves only basic needs, and nothing more. A reduction in scope of the project is a short term solution that will not solve a long term problem
- The cohesive sense of community, trust, and support for our district and public schools will be irreparably broken - delaying the bridge plan would be a terrible blow to the progress that has been made in building support for the district among its constituents and would negatively impact thousands of students
- The district should seek quick options to allocate an additional $3.5M to our project, getting the costs in line with LEEF’s and the district’s original estimate of the project cost, and should work diligently to keep all Bridge Plan projects on schedule
- The reason a Bridge Plan passed unanimously a year ago was due to critical facilities needs across the district as determined by an objective facilities study. These critical overcrowding and subpar facilities issues have not improved or gone away. They only become more critical as time passes.
What has LEEF Board of Directors done so far?
- Acted swiftly and immediately by holding an Emergency Response Plan meeting the evening of 5/11/16
- Drafted a memo to Board of Trustees outlining our grievances, which was sent prior to the 5/12/16 Board briefing
- Attended the 11:30am DISD Board of Trustees briefing on 5/12/16 to present a united front against these recommendations; gathered concerned parents and community leaders invested in these issues
- Held a productive meeting with DISD Chief of Staff 5/13/16
- Distributed Urgent Media Alert on 5/12/16
- Conducted interview with Channel 8 WFAA, for story that aired during the 6 o’clock evening news
- Distributed Community Alert on LEEF Facebook page on 5/12/16
- Offered the district alternative solutions such as tapping into contingency funds in the Bridge Plan and suggested a discussion of offering up a portion of our bond money to keep projects on track and scope
What can you do to help?
- There is strength in numbers; the more people in our community using their voice to ask the district to find a suitable solution, the more likely we are to make change
- Urge the Superintendent Hinojosa to include our community in helping to find a quick alternative solution to bid overages that does not affect timing or project scope
Who to reach out to?
When do I need to reach out?
- NOW! We need to move quickly and immediately, before decisions are made that will adversely affect our community and schools.
Please contact us with any questions at:
Dorcy Clark, President
Gretchen Darby, Communications
Amy Fennegan, Communications