By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Independent School District Board of Trustees has not given up on plans for a new elementary school, despite the failure of a bond initiative during the May 2016 election.

The GISD Board invited Mark Strong, with the architectural design firm of Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong, to provide board with an update on possibilities the board might wish to consider as it continues to explore what it intends to do about the elementary school.

“What I have tonight is some updated information, based on comments we got the last time in terms of the overall plan. I want to show those tonight and what I hope we can do is hone in on a direction. I have three different options similar to what we looked at last time, which will hopefully get you closer to where you want to be,” Strong said.

Strong indicated the next phase would involve sitting down with the district administrators and fleshing out details such as classroom counts, type of classrooms, size of classrooms and size of storage areas.

As he continued, the architect passed out three different sets of drawings for the board members to study. “The first set of drawings is what we have labeled as option ‘A.’ It renovates the existing (elementary) classrooms and puts an addition on that last wing. When I talk about renovation, essentially I’m talking about gutting the existing classrooms and putting in the correct size, ADA accessibility and putting a new roof on the entire building,” Strong said.

Option ‘B’, according to Strong, involved the re-configuration of the elementary school and adding on to the existing structures, while option ‘C’ “… involved pretty much abandoning these buildings and building a whole new campus where the ballfield is. It has sort of a pinwheel design.”

Several of the grapeland-ffaboard members asked building specific questions, but since the agenda item was for discussion purposes only, no actions were taken on the matter.

Before Strong gave his presentation to the board, the Grapeland FFA Public Relations team gave a presentation to the GISD Board in preparation for the upcoming Area Competition to be held at SFA.

The team was comprised of: Ashlyn Hughes, Hannah Turner, Stevie Reynolds, Taylor Pennington and Sayler Le Blanc.

FFA Advisor Shellee Goolsby explained, “Their target audience is (school) administration and we picked a scenario with a brand new superintendent and several new school board members.”

As they began, the team explained the history of FFA in education and how it worked to help make students better prepared for the world after high school.

“The FFA is a dynamic youth led organization within agricultural education that changes lives and prepares students for future careers through education and hands on experience. The FFA develops traits in students hat are not only beneficial to students in high school, technical school and college, but will also benefit their future employer. These traits are developed through the agricultural education three component model of: classroom laboratory; supervised agricultural experience; and FFA,” the team members clarified.

Prior to the FFA presentation, the meeting was called to order by GISD Board President Eddie Childress who yielded the floor to Superintendent Gregg Spivey for a report on the district’s FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas).

Spivey said, “Once again we received the highest rating you can get – Superior. We scored 96 out of a possible 100. The passing score was only 31. I give a lot of credit to Bonnie Hooper, our Business Manager, the school board and the administrators. Everyone does a good job of taking care of the money around here.”

In other matter brought before the board:

  • Consent agenda items were approved.
  • A lengthy discussion on the delivery of yearbooks was held, but no action was taken by the board.
  • Superintendent Spivey announced the annual Team of Eight training for school board members would be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.