Pasadena ISD Bond Election       Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Structural, air quality concerns spark
proposal for five replacement campuses

An extensive facilities audit conducted by an outside firm identified five campuses as candidates for replacement, saying that it would cost almost as much to renovate the schools as it would to rebuild them.

Magellan K-12, a company that specializes in the inspection of school facilities, suggested
Kruse, Pearl Hall and Richey elementary schools, along with San Jacinto and Southmore intermediate schools for replacement
after a year-long review. The studies noted that the aging buildings had structural concerns, air quality issues and lacked sufficient electrical service for today's instructional technology needs.

The five campuses have served their some of their areas for 50 years. The original wing of Kruse was built in the 1930s, while Pearl Hall opened its doors in 1952. Southmore opened in 1952 and San Jacinto welcomed students in 1959.

"If you were looking at trying to renovate these campuses, you would run into some major issues," said Julian Garcia, associate superintendent for facilities and construction. "It would be challenging and costly to bring these buildings up to code because of their age and structural integrity. The cost would be almost as much as constructing a new campus."

The replacement of the five campuses is part of a $299.88 million bond package to be decided by voters on Nov. 2. The measure to replace these schools came at the recommendation of the district's Future Facilities Committee, which is comprised of 80 community members.

According to the facilities audit, the age and structural concerns of the older wings of Kruse made it a candidate for a replacement campus. Officials said there is no room on-site to address the construction of new wings. Under the proposal, the school would be constructed at a new location near its present site to preserve its historical neighborhood connection and provide additional acreage to De Zavala and Pasadena High School.

The audit also found the 54-year-old Richey Elementary campus in need of replacing because of age and overall condition of the facility. If voters approve the bond issue, the replacement school could be built in phases on the original site.

Pearl Hall Elementary was constructed in the 1950s and has had no major renovations in recent years. The Future Facilities Committee recommended replacing the existing school with a new campus to handle enrollment growth, resolve persistent air quality issues and provide South Houston High School with additional acreage for expansion of athletic fields. Officials also pointed out the lack of space in the main office and limited room for storage. Files from the main office have had to be moved into file cabinets in the hallway, while additional storage has been placed behind a stage area in the cafeteria.

In the case of Richey and Pearl Hall, the audit also noted that the cafeteria space at both schools is too small for their enrollments of more than 800 students.

Structural issues addressed by the audit persuaded the committee to recommend replacement schools for San Jacinto and Southmore intermediate schools. At San Jacinto, the "B" building on the south side of the campus experiences standing water in one of the hallways during hard rainfall because of underground water that seeps into the building due to subsidence of the location since the late 1950s.

Proposed replacements for the San Jacinto and Southmore would be located within their respective attendance zones.

"It is the things that you don't immediately see at these five campuses that has prompted us to look at the future of these facilities," Garcia said. "It is those structural things that are problematic and are issues that need to be addressed. While they may not yet be matters of student safety, they will be soon if the situations are not addressed.

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