SWEENY — Three months after Sweeny ISD voters overwhelmingly approved bonds to pay for $28 million worth of infrastructure and other projects, trustees approved designs for the work.

Melissa Turnbaugh, a principal for Houston-based architecture firm Stantec, presented the design plans for each of the district’s three schools during the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

The main focus for Sweeny Elementary will be work that happens behind the walls, including an overhaul on electrical and plumbing. Bathrooms also will receive attention, with renovations to some and others converted to storage space, Turnbaugh said. Visible transformations include adding new carpets, finishes, ceilings, LED lighting, paint and dry-erase boards, she said.

“While it’s not a complete overhaul, it will be a visible transformation for the students (coming) in to campus,” Turnbaugh said.

The junior high also will have electrical and plumbing work done, bathroom renovations, repairs to the kitchen and the filling of the courtyard, she said.

When the design team met with science teachers, they found the ag shop was so large it could be converted into a science lab that can accommodate two classes in one room, Turnbaugh said. This would provide flexibility in the workroom and a collaborative space.

“They were really excited about the opportunity to have two grades at a time to teach something,” she said.

Stantec is working on two main areas of the high school campus, the auditorium and band hall and the Career and Technical Education facility.

The team plans to work on lighting and sound for the auditorium and free up space in ensemble and practice rooms in the band hall that were being used for storage, Turnbaugh said.

“By taking advantage of some adjacencies in the classroom that had a little bit of availability,” she said, “we’re going to capture that for some storage and, in turn, give back their ensemble and practice rooms to be used more readily available.”

The CTE facility will receive enhancements for the various departments.

“Sweeny ISD teachers and administrators were involved in the CTE facility … and the final plans reflect the learning environment needs of current and future Sweeny ISD students,” Superintendent Tory Hill said.

Providing windows into each space was important to the design team so people passing through the hallways could see the neat things happening within each program without disrupting the curriculum, Turnbaugh said.

“There are often so many great things that happen, but they’re behind walls that other people aren’t exposed to,” she said.

The covered multipurpose outdoor area envisioned to be used by the different programs also received extra attention from the design team, Turnbaugh said. It’s a flexible and interdisciplinary area for different kinds of projects like cattle pens and shoots for vet tech and trailer usage for ag mech and welding as examples, Turnbaugh said.

Updates on progress with the bond-funded projects will be included on periodic board agendas and the district website, Hill said. Board members approved creation of a bond oversight committee that will ensure all project work remains faithful to the planning of the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee, which out the bond plan together, he said.

The next meeting for the bond committee is scheduled for Oct. 10, Hill said.

Stantec’s next steps involve completing the construction documents and receiving pricing estimates from Stewart Builders so the work can go out for bid, Hill said. Construction is scheduled to begin in December, with the Career and Technology Center first on the to-do list.

“With each meeting and with each set of eyes, it just keeps getting better and better and more refined,” Turnbaugh said.

Cara Daeschner is a reporting intern for The Facts.

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