New high school suffers another delay

Lora Nussbaum will assist with AISD elections as needed.

Incorrect placement of concrete footings at the new high school construction site headed the discussion at Alpine ISD’s regular Board of Trustees meeting on March 24.

Present at the meeting were representatives from Weatherford-based general contractor Imperial Construction Site Superintendent Frank Patton, co-owner Jon Jones, and Project Manager Bobby Kelley. AISD construction specialist Paul Kucera and Parkhill architect Allan Wolf were also in attendance.

Trustee, Dist. 4, Rachel Carvajal voiced her concerns over misplacement of the concrete footings, saying it was a disappointment for both the district and the community. Jones apologized for the incident, and said the concrete contractor had been ill with COVID-19, and there were issues finding work crews in El Paso to come to Alpine. He said a new subcontractor from the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hired at no additional cost to the district.

Kucera provided an update for the week of March 19-24, saying their contractors would be on site for concrete removal, as well as plumbing, electric, and more.

Next up, trustees voted on a resolution about face coverings on school property for the remainder of the school year. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 10 that relaxed the mask order, and Superintendent Becky McCutchen said upon consultation with legal counsel, the board could vote on whether to keep the facemask policy in place or make it optional. Board Vice President Mary McCallister made a motion to relax the requirements and allow parents to have a choice, and Board Secretary Justin Cross seconded.

Trustee, Dist. 6, Dr. Adrian Billings strongly opposed the motion, citing safety concerns, but McCallister argued it should be left to choice, and to the parents’ discretion, not the teachers’. The motion failed 4-2, with Carvajal, Natera, Billings, and Trustee, Dist. 2, Joe Portillo voting against relaxation of the mask requirement, and only McCallister and Cross voting in favor. Trustee, Dist. 3, Billy Ray Laxton was absent.

McCallister said she would revisit the issue sometime in July in anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year.

In other news, trustees approved an order of cancellation for the Alpine ISD Board of Trustees Dist. 1 election on May 1, as incumbent Eddie Natera was running unopposed.

The trustees also approved an agreement with Brewster County Elections Administrator Lora Nussbaum. She will assist as needed with school board elections.

Finally, McCutchen announced that Alpine High School Interim Principal Lee Sanchez was in talks with Sul Ross State University to have the upcoming high school graduation at the Gallego Center. Graduation is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the middle school library.

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