Lewisville ISD's Board of Trustees will hold their monthly public meeting Monday night, November 16th in the Board Room of the William T. Bolin Administrative Center, 1565 W. Main St., Lewisville, at 7 p.m.
One item of interest to us was an item cryptically referred to as "Mechanical Changes and Upgrades" at Lewisville High School:
3. PURCHASING a. Consider adoption of the following Contracts, Resolutions, and Interlocal Agreements: 1. Contract to SHW Group for Mechanical Changes and Upgrades at Lewisville High School. 2. Resolution for the construction of the Mechanical Upgrades at Lewisville High School, McAuliffe Elementary, B. B. Owen Elementary, and the Bolin Administrative Center.
For several weeks now, I've been getting information about a situation at Lewisville High School, which is apparently the only high school in the district without fire sprinklers.
Lewisville High School was built in the 60's when codes did not require fire sprinklers to be installed. Because LISD wants to construct a new $4 million athletic field house facility on the campus, this triggers a new site plan under the City of Lewisville's ordinances.
Lewisville Fire Marshal Tim Ippolito explained the situation pretty clearly:
The LISD has submitted plans for a new locker room to be constructed adjacent to the football field at LHS. This submittal triggers a new civil site plan for the school site. The high school was built under code requirements from years past and complied with the requirements at that time. However, with a new site plan required, they must comply with current fire code requirements in regards to fire hydrants and fire lanes. In order to comply with the current requirements, additional fire hydrants and expansion of existing fire lanes is involved. We have offered to accept the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system in lieu of additional fire hydrants and expansion of the fire lanes as an alternative. In fact, we feel this would provide both better protection for life safety and protection for the building. This alternative would require approval by our City Council but would have staff support. LISD is currently evaluating which approach to undertake.
It is important to note that the new locker room will be fully protected with automatic fire sprinklers as well as two fire hydrants and a complying fire lane. The original school building did meet the requirements when constructed and is not required to install fire sprinklers retroactively based on the construction of a new, non-attached building on the site. If LISD was adding square footage to the original school building, then fire sprinklers would be required.
LHS staff and several parents tell us that the campus has crowded hallways and that passing between periods is so difficult that students often exit the building and walk around on the outside to get to their classes.
Lewisville Mayor Dean Ueckert has expressed concern over the district's priorities, and has said that he believes he has the votes on the City Council to put a stop to LISD's plans unless they install the sprinklers.
LISD officials were concerned with the cost, because such massive construction taking place in the ceilings would usually coincide with the scheduled replacement of HVAC systems, and would have to be completed during the summer months. Further, district staff were concerned that they might find asbestos in use, since that might also have been used in the building's construction.
Ueckert was not phased by that potential expense, noting that if they did find asbestos, then that would be a higher priority than a $4 million field house.
We contacted LISD Board secretary Cherry Carter today to inquire about the item on the agenda and seek backup materials, but Carter said that she was not authorized to release any information on this type of project, and would not comment one way or the other on whether it was about the sprinklers.
District spokeswoman Karen Permetti would also not comment, saying only "please submit an open records request."
WhosPlayin responded today with an open records request for the backup materials as well as our request that the district start making that type of information public:
Specifically, we are requesting the following:
o The consent agenda, Item 3a: Purchasing: Any materials provided to the Trustees on this item, whether by paper document, electronic document, or email.
Since this information is critical to the public discussion of the matter at the upcoming board meeting on Monday, we are requesting expedited service so that we have time to research and publish the appropriate summary.
We further request that these backup materials be regularly posted on the internet as part of the agenda packet normally posted. The agendas as posted do not meet standards of openness required for citizen review. While we understand that certain personnel and property acquisition matters are confidential, there should be no excuse to hide the others from public review.
When we spoke to Mayor Ueckert today, he was optimistic that LISD would undertake the sprinkler installation concurrent with the construction of the new field house, though it could take two summers to get the entire school completed. Ueckert thought the agenda item on the LISD agenda probably was for the construction of the sprinklers as well as the replacement of the HVAC system and possible asbestos remediation Ueckert will not be able to attend the LISD meeting due to a City Council meeting at the same time. Ueckert did say he thinks "it would be great if you all could get people there [to support the item]".
I have more to write about this based on some notes I made in conversations with city staff and LISD. I'll update this post Friday or Saturday.