Garner ISD interviews architects for secondary campus

Garner ISD board of trustees met with architects from three different firms about the design of a secondary campus on Thursday evening in the administration building. The firms Brown Reynolds Watford Architects, Architects Rabe and Partners and Harper Perkins Architects were represented. 

Garner ISD board of trustees met with representatives of three architectural firms for the design of a secondary campus on Thursday evening. 

The firms Brown Reynolds Watford Architects, Architects Rabe and Partners, and Harper Perkins Architects were represented. The board did not take action during the meeting but is scheduled to consider picking an architect during the regular meeting on Monday evening.

The board approved moving forward on implementing a secondary campus in November. A secondary campus would address the growth the district is experiencing in its current building and allow families to continue their children’s education in GISD for the high school years, since currently the district stops providing schooling after eighth grade. Having another building would alleviate space needs in the current campus by moving grades 6-8 into a secondary campus with grades 9-12, GISD Superintendent Rebecca Hallmark said.

The budget for a secondary campus is $10 million, Hallmark said. The potential site, which could change, for the new campus is on the east side of the current property and behind the current gym where about six acres has been donated. 

If possible, Hallmark said the goal is to open the campus in two to three years. Support by the parents and community helped speed up the process.

“Initially, we thought it would take a whole year to go through this process, but I believe the citizen’s committee and the board both were concerned about what they were hearing about how construction costs are increasing, and so that process sped up a lot,” Hallmark said.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board discussed wanting to call a bond election for the local elections in May, which would mean the district would have to call it by Feb. 14.

“Our community committee has said multiple times, ‘If we do this, we’re doing this and you’re not coming back and asking us for more money for quite a while,’ so I think we have to be careful,” Garner Principal Diane Shaw said. “We may know and we may say that we know that this is not the end all be all forever, but it needs to be enough for a while, and I don’t think our narrative can include, ‘This is phase one, and we’re already excited about phase two,’ because we’re not going to sell it to them.”

Board President Clay Youngblood said whatever the plan ends up being, it needs to set the district up for future expansion.

The architects talked to trustees about their previous projects, explained their business practices and addressed questions.

“Y’all give us a new building to build, that is a big deal for us because that’s going to be a community center, and it’s now a pipeline for these families into the school district, and it’s going to be here for a long time,” BRW Associate Principal Anne Hildenbrand said.

Some of the architects talked with trustees about multi-use spaces that can serve more than one purpose so that the district can make the most of its money. Shaw said some spaces can be shared by elementary and secondary students.

During her presentation, Harper Perkins President and Principal Glenda Ramsey said her team would need to talk with staff and everyone involved to proceed with the design of the building.

“I don’t have a rubber stamp plan that I’m going to tell y’all this is what you need,” Ramsey said. “I want to hear what you need, and then I’m going to put that on paper, and I’m going to figure out how to make that work.”

Dale Rabe of Architects Rabe and Partners also said he would talk with those involved to configure the design, which would be done on site to speed up the process. Rabe’s firm also includes a master planning program for school districts.

“The way our program works, I’m not Moses; I’m not going to come down from the mountain with the engraved tablets of stone and say, ‘Here’s your school,’” Rabe said. “We found out that we get a lot more satisfaction from our clients and stuff, we go and work on site doing design on site.”

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