School district fuel station bid over estimate

By Richard Zowie

The Highlander

A school fuel station project is under delay due to a sole bid that wasn’t within budget, and the Marble Falls Independent School District trustees heard of a “STEAM” curriculum that would emphasize the arts, during the school board’s Nov. 13 regular meeting.

The trustees also approved votes for the upcoming Burnet Central Appraisal District board race for 2018-2019.

Marble Falls ISD Transportation Fueling Station update

Work on building a new transportation fueling station facility for the school district has hit a snag.

The $1.7 million project, to be paid for out of the fund balance, would move the existing facility to the corner of Colt Circle and Indian Trail.

Jeff Gasaway, assistant superintendent of administrative operations, reported they received only one bid for the second phase, but the bid was not within the district’s allotted budget.

Gasaway said the bid was approximately $1 million over what they had estimated the cost to be.

“It was a real kick in the gut,” he said. “We had two people pick up packets and submit bids in the first phase. We wanted it to be more robust and felt we did our due diligence and try to get a bigger variety. We called people and had more interest but at the end of the day, we had only one company bid.”

The board then formally rejected the bid, while Gasaway said they’ve been talking to the bidder to see how costs can be cut from the bid. He also asked two local construction companies why they didn’t bid. Among the reasons was they “had a lot on their plates” and had some concerns about the project.

Gasaway said they will work on it again in January to try to get better bids and lower costs.

“We’re optimistic we can get this down to a reasonable number,” said Dr. Chris Allen, MFISD superintendent.

STEAM

Dr. Wes Cunningham, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, presented to the school board a “STEAM” program that’s an education program “centered around problem solving, experimental learning, collaboration and creativity.”

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

In the presentation, Cunningham described STEAM as “a lens through which we can respond to the community’s desire to see more hands-on, real-world, experiential learning that is academically rigorous. This approach will allow Marble Falls ISD students to experience innovation and problem based learning.”

“The idea is to prepare students opportunities that don’t yet exist,” Cunningham said.

The initial program that would be used in the district would infuse arts into the learning program and add reading to the mix.

“We know creativity is one of the top qualities employees look for,” Cunningham said. “We know that students can use the arts to learn how to solve problems that have more than one answer.”

Cunningham said among the schools using STEAM include Austin, Round Rock, Killeen, Dallas, Galveston and Brownsville ISDs. They’ve done site visits at some of the schools.

Though still in the development stage here, Allen said this is far being an experimental program.

“This has been done elsewhere in Texas,” the superintendent said. “By using this, we’re not becoming mad scientists.”

Burnet Central Appraisal District

After discussing nine names of candidates for the Burnet Central Appraisal District Board of Directors race for 2018-2019, the trustees selected five candidates to receive an equal amount of the 1,955 votes the district has available in the race.

James B. Davant, Bobbye Hensley, Dave Kithil, Darlene Oostermeyer and Kay Renick will each receive 391 votes.

A suggestion was made to choose candidates who can best represent the district’s 268 square mile area.

Update on TTU Regional Teaching Site at Highland Lakes

Dr. Kelly Fox, director of the Texas Tech University Regional Teaching Site at Highland Lakes, and Lance Pickle, the admissions counselor, updated the trustees on new happenings in the MFISD’s partnership with the “Tech Teach Program.”

Depending on a student’s field of study and time for class and due in part to online classes or distance learning, it’s possible for them to earn a bachelor’s degree without leaving Marble Falls.

One of those degrees focuses on food and wine production, described as an “impact” degree.

Students can either start college in high school through a dual credit program, or they can do their first two years here before transferring to Texas Tech (if their preferred degree is available only at the Lubbock campus).

“We love the ‘Tech Teach’ program and would love to expand into other programs,” Fox said. “Taking community classes in Marble Falls has benefits, especially for students who don’t think they can afford college.”

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