Architects said they are pleased with layout of old school

Christopher Maher, Jim Wells County Correspndent

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Independent School District Board of Trustees was presented Wednesday with a picture of a proposed new elementary school - the district's old junior high school.

Randy Hohlaus, a partner with the architect firm Kell Munoz, made the presentation to the board Wednesday.

Hohlaus told the board his firm had conducted a preliminary analysis of the old Bernarda Jaime Junior High School building, and was pleased with the layout.

Hohlaus indicated much of the main structure, in addition to several adjacent buildings, could be renovated and retained as a combined 80,000-square foot campus.

Last August, the school board voted to use a state Instructional Facilities Allotment Program (IFA) and a bond approved by the voters in 2003 to construct a new facility.

Hohlaus told the board that rising construction costs had led his firm to evaluate options for maximizing the money available, and found that renovating the old junior high school could give the district more space at a lower cost.

Board Vice President Pete Guerra said Wednesday's presentation was the first time he had heard of any plan other than building a new school, and questioned the wisdom of renovating the old school.

"I build houses for a living, and a renovated house is never going to be as nice as a new house," Guerra said.

The board asked Hohlaus to bring additional information, including a comparison with the costs of building a completely new school, to a future meeting.

A full presentation on the firm's proposal is expected at the board's next meeting.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Nora Casarez as assistant principal of Bernarda Jaime Junior High.

Casarez filed a grievance with the district following her reassignment from the principal position at San Diego High School to a second assistant principal position at Bernarda Jaime Junior High on Feb. 12. That grievance was rejected by the board in June.

The board voted to hire Anna Valdez as the new vice principal for San Diego High School and Yvonne Munoz as vice principal of Collins/Parr Elementary.

The board also accepted an agreement with the Texas Cooperative Extension to name extension agents as adjunct faculty.

As a result of the agreement, students who participate in activities such as 4-H with the Texas Cooperative Extension will not be counted as absent for missing normal classwork.