It was apparent that the architectural firm of Claycomb and Associates are doing their best to help Silsbee ISD.
With ailing campuses at Kirby and Read-Turrentine Elementary schools, the achitecture firm is helping devise a plan that would suit the needs of not only the students of Silsbee ISD, but the community as well.
After further evaluation of the school’s needs, it was later determined that a new school for first through fifth grades and the renovation of Laura Reeves for pre-K through kindergarten be an avenue to concentrate on for a bond proposal in May.
The newest proposal still comes at a whopping 11 million lower than the original plan by PBK Architecture had proposed one year ago.
Claycomb and Associates President Kevin Smith is willing to work with staff and administrations to help come up with a design to better facilities for its students.
Working 32 years in the state, solely on educational facilities, it is in black and white that this firm is committed to doing the best they can for Silsbee.
When the firm and Superintendent held a meeting on Thursday at Silsbee ISD school board meeting, it was a small committee of teachers, administrators, citizens and businesspersons that showed interest, but the attendance was well below subpar by any standards.
“We had a $15 million high school built for $22 million,” one business member of the committee said. “We would like some reassurance that we won’t have that problem again.”
Claycomb presented a proposal and even digressed to add other options in what would become a $29 million bond. But the most important aspect of the proposal is that the new school would be a combined elementary.
Even by renovating existing schools and cutting corners, the school would still need to do work on buildings that are in excess of 50 years old.
The price tag on doing such work comes just a few million short of the latest proposal by Silsbee ISD.
By combining schools, the district will have to swallow areas that may not set well with administrations and/or teachers. A first through fifth grade would need one administration and areas of maintenance and cafeteria work would be reduced at some point.
But the cost to maintain old buildings and have all elementary students in one building and faculty near each other is one of the biggest positives in this proposal.
Add the recent tragedies at schools across the country, security is a major topic in the new school as well as integrating those into Edwards Johnson Memorial Silsbee Middle School and Laura Reeves, a campus this proposal will keep and renovate.
“Most of all the decisions we make will be a part of the design process,” said Smith. “The design process will happen in front of the board, in front of the teachers, in front of your principals and this committee. I hope this committee comes up and helps us work on that also, because we want your input. This is your community’s schools.”
As the committee and community study the processes that Claycomb takes in this proposal and their past work, they too are studying what will work for Silsbee.
Their current work in Livingston building a new high school and a recent project similar to the Silsbee proposal in Diboll are testament to this company and its standards.
The main enemy in the process now is time and a deadline of March 1 will be key in what direction Silsbee ISD will take. A bond proposal would need to be added to the May ballot by that date.
Cutting corners and settling for an $8-10 million bond would send the district into panic mode well within 10 years and back to the point we are today.
The committee and Superintendent Richard Bain know that something has to be done soon regardless. And with a small faction of committee members left to make a decision, it will soon be in the hands of the whole community like a brick in the face.
The cost is minimal to taxpayers and by attending meetings, most would see how vital this decision will be to Silsbee ISD elementary students and teachers alike.
Be proactive in the community and listen to what Claycomb and Associates will do to help Silsbee ISD. Because in the end, it is our future of our kids we hold in our hands.