Hires San Antonio architectural firm

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Following a special board meeting held over the weekend, the San Diego Independent School District is moving forward with plans to build a new $8.5 million elementary school in the district.

The board met Saturday and viewed presentations from three companies competing for a contract to provide architectural services for the district.

The three companies represented Saturday included Kell Munoz Architects from San Antonio, PBK Architects from San Antonio and LaMarr Womack and Associates from Corpus Christi.

Following the presentations, the board voted to enter into negotiations with Kell Munoz Architects.

SDISD Board President Javier Solis said the board was very impressed with Kell Munoz Architects' presentation Saturday.

"As far as the presentation was concerned, they just blew everybody else out of the water. They were very impressive with their presentation," Solis said. "They also were much more explanatory, as far as the details of what needed to happen and what type of options we were going to have."

Solis said he was also impressed with the representatives' willingness to be open with the board.

"They also seemed to have a much greater sense of sincerity, nothing to hide, everything out in the open," Solis said. "They seemed to be very honest and very blunt about what needed to happen."

The new $8.5 million elementary school will be paid partly by funding from an Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA) provided by the state, and partly through a bond passed by voters in 2003.

Under the terms of the IFA funding, the state will pay 76 percent of up to $5.42 million of that total, and the district will fund 24 percent of that amount and the remaining $3.08 million from property tax revenue.

The district hopes to use the IFA funding and the amount authorized through the bond to build a new elementary school that will include grades pre-kindergarten through fifth.

The district currently has the elementary students divided between two campuses, Archie Parr Elementary and Collins Primary. Those two campuses will be closed once the new facility is completed, district officials said.

Solis said he was glad to see progress on the new facility, following several months of delays.

"This is just the very initial phase, just a first step, but we're trying to get the ball rolling," Solis said.

"The whole board is inclusive, and it's just a matter of time of getting all these contracts sorted out and getting the OK to get going."