Construction schedule moves forward

Alpine ISD Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 5, and discussed several topics related to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Superintendent Becky McCutchen provided a construction update, and reviewed the schedule for competitive sealed proposals. McCutchen said the district was currently seeking bids from contractors, and bids are due on Thursday, Aug. 20.

On Monday, Aug. 24, a construction ranking team, will meet to evaluate and rank the bids. The team consists of McCutchen, district CFO Tucker Durham, maintenance staff member Chayo Gonzales, construction specialist Paul Kucera, and Alpine general contractor Sammy Saenz. Joining them will be the Parkhill, Smith & Cooper architectural team of Allan Wolf, Les Burke, Derek Kaser, and Larry Hernandez.

McCutchen said she wanted to add a community member to bring the total to 10. At the next board meeting, trustees would then vote to approve the contractors.  

Construction for phase 1 will include the new high school and renovations, along with the elementary and middle school gym HVAC systems, and is slated to get underway on Sept. 9, with estimated completion in February 2021. Substantial completion would be finalized in December 2021, and that would include renovation of other buildings such as the band hall and ag facility.

In other news, McCutchen provided a COVID-19 update, and reviewed requirements regarding face masks adding, “We are following the governor’s orders and CDC recommendations, and following our reopening district plans. If something changes with the face covering order from the governor or the county, then we would reevaluate that, but as of right now, we are following those orders, and we have not been told that that would be lifted anytime soon.”

Also, the athletic teams were prohibited from traveling out of town on overnight trips without prior approval, such as a team advancing to a regional tournament. McCutchen said compulsory attendance for all students was in place, even for remote instruction. She noted that the younger the students, the higher percentage of remote learning preference, while the middle and high school students preferred in-person learning.

Regarding screening, McCutchen said the district cannot specifically ask anyone what symptoms they might have, but can only ask if they are exhibiting symptoms. They may also ask if they have spent time around anyone who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Parents of Alpine ISD students would also be asked to submit a screening form by 6:30 a.m. each day, and staff by 6:55 a.m. Board member, Dist. 2, Joe Portillo, asked the principals from all three campuses how the teachers felt about going back into the classroom. High school Principal Justin Gonzales said 90% of teachers want to teach face to face, but some are worried about contracting the virus.

Middle school Principal Cody Patterson said teachers expressed some nervousness and stress, and elementary school Principal Verl O’Bryant said it was a combination of both, depending on what age group they are.

Board member, Dist. 7, Mary McCallister was more hopeful, saying, “I have talked to a few teachers, and they are eager to get back in. They miss the kids, and they are worried about the kids, especially at the elementary level, that are learning to read. They are concerned about where the kids are going to be developmentally when they come back.”

The next regularly scheduled Alpine ISD Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom videoconference.

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