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Gainesville Independent School District’s board of directors this week approved a pool of five architectural firms whose services can be used on future district construction projects as needed.

By a 4-1 vote with Will Presson opposed, the board approved the pool including Sanger-based Eikon Consultant Group LLC; Fort Worth-based Huckabee Inc.; El Paso-based MNK Architects Inc.; Houston-based PBK Inc.; and Dallas-basd WRA Architects Inc. Board members Phil Neelley and Mike Rosenberg were absent for the Monday, Nov. 18 meeting.

The five firms have experience in school architectural design and had sent in responses to a request for qualifications the district had released in October. The RFQ solicited “architectural qualifications from firms interested in providing services to the school district,” according to a public notice published Oct. 29 in the Register.

Superintendent DesMontes Stewart said the district had an existing contract with Eikon that had been in effect since before he took the superintendent position in 2018.

“What this RFQ does is it doesn’t eliminate that agreement, but what it does is it provides us the opportunity to add additional entities into the mix as far as future projects that may come to reality,” Stewart said. “Really it just provides us an increased talent pool from which to choose as we begin the process of looking at potential future projects.”

Presson asked who had written up the request for qualifications. “I don’t see anything about local taxpayers, number of employees that live within our district, you know, how many tax dollars” are generated locally, he said.

Stewart said administration cooperated on the language, which was based on standard RFQ wording and what the district had used before.

GISD is awaiting a final report from Eikon on a facilities assessment and master plan it’s drafting. The district contracted with Eikon to update a 2015 assessment of the district’s six existing facilities. The contract also called for conceptual master planning of Gainesville High School and Gainesville Junior High School, according to a previous report in the Register.

Stewart previously told the Register that the updated assessment will play a “heavy part” in capital improvement discussions.

Eikon summarized phases one and two of the assessment at the July 15 and Oct. 21 board meetings this year.

In other business, the board voted 5-0 to approve the purchase of 600 Chromebook laptops, 20 charging carts for the laptops and 45 iPads and charging cables at a total cost of $154,385. That will be paid for out of a budget line set aside specifically for one-time instructional technology purchases, according to information provided to board members.

Five carts each of Chromebooks will be sent to W.E. Chalmers Elementary School, Robert E. Lee Intermediate School, Gainesville Junior High School and Gainesville High School, the board information shows. The iPads will go to classrooms at Gainesville Head Start and Thomas A. Edison Elementary School.

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