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Bryan ISD to Begin Building Rudder High


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Bryan ISD to Begin Building Rudder High



Eagle Staff Writer

Bryan school trustees are moving forward with ground work and paving at Rudder High School despite worries the final price tag for campus construction could be almost $4 million higher than originally planned.

School board members voted Monday to hire Brazos Paving and Brazos Valley Services to begin site construction, which includes grading, drainage work and asphalt and concrete paving. The cost for the work is nearly $4.8 million, district administrators said.

"July of 2008 will be here before we know it," Assistant Superintendent Mike Kristynik said, pointing to the school's estimated completion date and the need to move forward with plans. "We have a lot of work to do."

Building Rudder High School is the largest part of a bond issue that was overwhelmingly passed by voters early last year. The $104 million bond package also calls for a fourth middle school, a rebuilt Bonham Elementary School and renovations at about a dozen campuses.

A groundbreaking ceremony already has been held for the new Bonham campus, which is being built adjacent to its current Wilkes Drive location. It is expected to open in fall 2007.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Rudder and Davila are upcoming; the high school's is on Friday and the middle school's is later this month. Rudder is being built on Old Reliance Road near North Earl Rudder Freeway while Davila is being constructed near the freeway's intersection with Texas Avenue. Both are expected to open in fall 2008.

Trustees in recent weeks have expressed concern about the construction expense for Davila and Rudder, both of which are expected to cost more than originally thought.

The board last week approved a $21.5 million contract for Davila. That's $4.5 million more than the amount school officials allocated for the project. And while a contract for Rudder has yet to be developed, administrators Monday estimated the project would cost about $46.3 million -or about $3.7 million more than anticipated.

However, Monday's approval of the site construction contracts for Rudder High actually ended up coming in under budget. The $4.8 million project was expected to cost $5.5 million, administrators said.

Blaming increased costs on skyrocketing gas prices, a high demand for construction materials and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Kristynik told trustees they should move forward with the projects. An attempt to delay plans and return to the drawing board could end up costing more money because of inflation, he explained.

"If we step back and punt who knows? If we delay things a year, will things really come down in price?" he asked trustees. "Even though it's unpleasant, we really don't have a lot of choice."

Meanwhile, Superintendent Mike Cargill pledged that while some projects might be postponed, all bond construction and renovations would be eventually completed - even if the district has to dip into its savings to do so.

Additional bond projects are planned for Milam and Kemp elementary schools, the Carver Early Childhood Center and Long and Rayburn middle schools. Work already has begun at Milam, where the air conditioning system was re-routed this summer to allow for construction of a new classroom wing. Work on the remaining schools is scheduled through 2009.

Cargill said projects that directly affect students - such as construction of new classroom wings at Milam and building work at Carver - would be a higher priority than cosmetic work, such as the new paint and flooring planned for the two middle schools.

Construction bids for the high school will be returned in October, and administrators said Monday they should have a better handle on financial situation facing the district at that time.

School board President David Stasny said he hoped the community would remain patient with the district and stressed that trustees and administrators were simply trying to do what was best for Bryan schools.

"We really hope we can get the word out. We're doing everything we can to do this right," Stasny said.

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This is something that should have been done a long time ago. It looks like the current school board finally cares more about students than football...this is a new thing for Bryan ISD.

Trust me wait till redistricting comes up, that's going to be interesting to watch which students go to Bryan or Rudder High. Right now it might be all calm and quiet but when Rudder High opens its doors and start playing football in the future and just say they start off with a good record you will see then people/coaches from Bryan High saying they got the bad end of the talent pool, but right now it's good to see another High School opening its long overdue

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Questions remain on plans for new Bryan high school



Eagle Staff Writer

Construction crews have begun groundwork at the site of the future Rudder High School. Bryan school officials armed with shovels even turned some dirt during a formal groundbreaking ceremony last week.

But the process is far from complete, and there is more than just physical construction work lies ahead.

Attendance boundaries must be drawn to divide high school students between Bryan High and its new rival campus. Educators must finalize curricula for the two schools and decide which academic programs and extracurricular activities will be housed at each.

And then there is construction. Architects have drawn plans for the new campus being built on Old Reliance Road just east of the freeway, and site work has begun. But Assistant Superintendent Mike Kristynik said construction companies won't begin bidding on the job until October, and it will be mid-month before trustees select a winner.

The estimated cost is $46.3 million - nearly $4 million more than originally allocated for the project. But with the high cost of diesel fuel and construction materials, even that figure remains fluid until a final contract is signed, Kristynik said.

Despite the unknowns, both Kristynik and Superintendent Mike Cargill say they have every intention of moving forward.

"It is a risk without knowing the total cost," Kristynik said Thursday when asked about preparing the site and holding a ground-breaking ceremony before signing a contract. "I have seen nothing but commitment from Cargill and the board of trustees to get the project done. We're committed to trying to figure out how to make this happen."

Rudder is the largest of three major construction projects - and about a dozen smaller projects - outlined in a 2005 bond package. The other two large projects include a new middle school being built near North Earl Rudder Freeway and Texas Avenue and the rebuilding of Bonham Elementary on land adjacent to its current Wilkes Drive campus.

Bonham is set to open next fall. Rudder and Davila Middle School are expected to open in 2008.

"This is going to be a real key year, setting attendance zones, naming personnel, picking colors and a mascot," Cargill said Friday, moments before he and nine other city and school officials grabbed shiny silver shovels and pushed them into the ground at the Rudder campus. "This will be a very fast and furious year."

Growing the school

Rudder is expected to open with about 750 students - 425 freshmen and 325 sophomores - and grow to its 1,600-student capacity within about eight years, according to Kristynik's projections. That figure includes about 250 seats reserved for students transferring for academic or sports programs. Junior and senior classes will be added each year as the sophomores advance through school, he said.

Those future Rudder High sophomores - now in eighth grade - will be identified this year after attendance zones are drawn and will be considered the inaugural class at the school. They will spend their freshman year at the Bryan High campus but will be separated in their own wing and will be instructed by Rudder teachers and administrators.

Kristynik and Cargill said they will work with that class to determine the colors and mascot for Rudder High.

Cargill said he is excited to move forward with the construction.

"This is a historic day when you stop and think about what this means to our school district," he said during the Friday afternoon groundbreaking. "It is just a wonderful step forward."

What and where

Some decisions already have been made. Rudder High School won't open with a swimming team, Kristynik said, because the swimmers practice at the Bryan Aquatic Center, which is adjacent to Bryan High. The wrestling team will remain at Bryan High because it isn't feasible to have such a small team split between two campuses, he said.

Meanwhile, Viking gymnasts will make the move to Rudder High, where a new gymnasium is being built, Kristynik said

With Rudder blueprints laid out before him, Kristynik pointed to different parts of the school and identified their purpose. There will be three shop areas designated for agriculture science, auto tech and construction trades and four classroom suites - one for each grade level if the board chooses to organize the school that way.

Rudder will offer a comprehensive suite of academic classes and sports teams such as football, baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer and tennis, Kristynik said. It also will house the district's criminal justice and culinary arts programs.

Space also is designated in the blueprints for the Hammond Oliver High School for the Human Sciences, currently located on Memorial Drive. But there are problems to be solved. The program includes juniors and seniors, and when the school first opens, there won't be any junior- or senior-level classes to accommodate them, Kristynik said.

And it remains unclear whether Rudder will have an ROTC program, he said, noting that such programs must be federally approved.

"Right now, it's just labels on paper," Kristynik said, explaining that changes still could be made.

Drawing the lines

Though trustees have not made a final decision, it appears attendance boundaries will be the main determining factor in whether a student attends school at Bryan or Rudder. Lines have yet to be drawn, but Kristynik said he thinks the district likely will be split into north and south zones. Doing so provides two sections that are fairly equal in both population and socio-economic status, he said.

A rezoning committee is expected to be named and begin meeting next month, and Kristynik said he hopes to have new boundary lines drawn before Thanksgiving. Ideally, the district could then hold several public hearings and have the plan adopted by December, Kristynik said.

The new zones would go into effect by fall 2008, which would give parents and educators more than a year to plan for them, he said.

Right now, the district's plan is to provide all students with transportation to either school, Kristynik said. That could be done by picking up students on a particular bus route and then having the bus make stops at both schools, he said.

"All of us want to avoid potential horror stories," Kristynik said. "We want our patrons, our parents and students, to be served, and we want them to be happy with the service we provide them."

I'll say it again, I'm really impressed with how the school board is doing right now. They seem to have thought this through pretty well.

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  • 2 months later...

Bryan trustees get first look at school zoning proposals


Eagle Staff Writer

Full article

Options on how the Bryan School District should redraw attendance zones were presented to the board of trustees for the first time Thursday night.

A committee charged with the task of developing the plans outlined four options for the board to consider. Two options were unveiled for high school rezoning and two options for middle schools.

Boundaries are being redrawn to accommodate the new Rudder High School and Davila Middle School, which are both part of the district's $104 million bond package.

Maps of the attendance zone options are available online at www.bryanisd.org.

"The plan accomplishes the goals we set out as best as possible," said James Edge, a committee member and parent. "It's not a perfect plan, but it's a good plan. There is no perfect plan. I'm confident that students and the entire community will look back at this day and know we did the right thing."

A committee made up of about 30 community members has met five times since Oct. 12 to develop and consider several rezoning options. It was assisted by the College Station-based consulting firm Population and Survey Analysts.

Committee members told the board Thursday that they attempted to design the attendance zones with a balance of socio-economic status among students, which they believe promotes overall higher performance among all schools They also said they wanted to create as little disruption for students as possible.

"[The committee] strived to think about the community's best interest rather than individual interests," said Doug Wunneburger, a committee member and parent.

Under the new plans, a quarter of all students will be attending a different middle school, while a third of students will move to a new high school - reducing overcrowding, committee members said.

The committee said they did not take in to account TAKS scores, property values, neighborhood preferences or Little League affiliations when developing the plans.

Committee members said they overwhelmingly supported the plan known as Option 4 for the high schools because it would create more balanced growth between the schools.

In Option 4, Rudder's attendance zone boundaries stretch north to the county lines from North Texas Avenue and portions of William Joel Bryan Parkway, and run, roughly, along F.M. 1179 and a section of F.M. 2038.

In Option 5, Rudder's attendance zone grows to include the area beyond Texas Avenue toward the western county line and north of Texas 21. That option would add an estimated 183 students to Rudder's 2008 enrollment, according to the project maps.

"I believe wherever you go and whatever school you go to, you are going to have problems," said school board member, Bema Johnson-Hall. "But I believe problems can be fixed. We want to keep an open mind and take the facts and do what is best for the district as a whole."

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Check out these options for the proposed new attendance zones: BISD Proposed Attendance Zones

These really give you a good idea of how the town & county are going to be divided. There was an article in The Eagle a year or so ago that said new home construction in northeast Brazos County had surpassed the southern portion of the county and Bryan ISD's demographic studies show over 52% of new home construcion in the district will be in that area. These proposed zones really seem to drive that point home. I really wonder what this will do to development in different areas of Bryan and rural Brazos County.

Edited by Bryan Guy
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