Bond committee gets facility overview

Elementary and middle school capacity, needs and options were the focus of the Bond Advisory Committee at its meeting Thursday at Cavazos Elementary School.

Darrell Pearson, a partner with PBK, an architecture, engineering, planning, technology and facility consulting firm, said the average age of buildings in Ector County ISD is 51. Generally, he said, you get 75 to 100 years of use out of a building.

Pearson reviewed the facility condition index for each elementary and middle school campus that takes into account the health, age and lifespan of the building.

As buildings go, Pearson said, the buildings are old but they’re well maintained and could be used for years to come. However, they may not be up to par for educational delivery.

Some schools are underutilized and some are over utilized such as Buice Elementary, which will reach 207 percent of projected utilization by 2028.

Pearson said 105 to 110 percent utilization is about the top use a building can stand. Above that, he said, core functions start to suffer such as the cafeteria.

A couple of committee members mentioned the need for a career and technical education campus and another wondered if they could build new schools and repurpose underutilized schools.

In 2012, voters approved a $129 million bond that built Downing, Buice and West elementary schools and added to Odessa and Permian high schools.

A $291 million bond issue was put up for a vote in 2016, but failed. It was estimated there were $700 million in needs at the time.

Bond committee co-chairman Lorraine Perryman said the failure of that bond resulted in a lot of this situation that the district is seeing in over utilization.

If the bond had passed, Perryman said the community wouldn’t be seeing a lot of what they are seeing today in terms of facility conditions.

The district is using 165 portables.

Perryman said this is just to remind everyone how important the committee’s work is and that the committee represents the community.

“We want to really do it right the first time,” Perryman said.

She added that the community builds for growth, but not when buildings are deteriorating.

The growth here is cyclical, but the district never catches up.

Many districts have trained their community that they have bond elections every five years or every 10 years, Perryman said.

“It’s up to us as a community. We’ve decided to renovate what we have instead of building new facilities,” Perryman said.

“That was not always a deliberative decision, but through not dealing with growth and facility aging that’s why we have 165 portable and we’re constantly adding on and renovating,” she added.

When there is a bust, people aren’t leaving, Perryman noted.

“A lot of people are staying here and we have to plan for the long haul and not just emergency, what’s happening right now,” Perryman said.