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Jennifer Wilson

Top 5 Educational Design Firm

By | News

Huckabee was named to the Top 5 Educational Architecture firms in the nation by Engineering News-Record. The 2021 Sourcebook follows the growth and success of architecture and engineering firms within the United States and abroad. Huckabee exclusively serves education and has for 54 years. It’s an honor to be recognized nationally for our service to Texas public schools. This recognition also represents the resiliency and innovation found within our public school systems, who continually focus on what matters most, the success of all students, educators and the communities that embrace them. It’s their innovative spirit that inspires us to do more and be more every day.

For the full list, click here.

Our recent projects

C.E. King High School

May 1, 2020

Early Childhood Center

April 20, 2020

J.R. Irvin Elementary School

January 30, 2020

Rock Hill High School

January 3, 2020

Jackie Fuller Elementary School

December 6, 2019

Igo Elementary School

October 16, 2019

Career Technical Center

June 28, 2019

Tippit Middle School

May 26, 2019

Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy

April 7, 2019

Josh Brown Named President

By | News

Huckabee, a 54-year-old firm exclusively committed to educational planning and design, is excited to announce a new President to help lead the company into the future.

Josh Brown, AIA, was named President in April. He has provided 18 years of leadership and innovation to Huckabee, helping position the firm as a trailblazer in educational design. Josh joined Huckabee in 2003 as an Intern Architect, later serving as a Project Leader, Associate Principal, Principal and Office Director. His experience provided him a well-rounded perspective of the people, industry and clients we serve; and it is complemented by his deep belief in the firm’s mission and commitment to the success of all students.

“On many occasions, Josh stepped up and answered the call to do very difficult work in the company,” said Christopher M. Huckabee, AIA, Chief Executive Officer. “Moving Josh into the role of President recognizes his contributions and represents an exciting transition toward the next generation of Huckabee’s leadership group.”

Among his accomplishments, Josh has designed and managed more than a billion dollars in educational projects for the firm, he has provided mentorship to many current and future leaders, and he has supported strategic growth as a Shareholder of Huckabee. Notably, Josh played a critical role in the development of Huckabee’s educational research lab, LEx Labs at Baylor University, a facility where clients explore the connection between the learning environment and student engagement. He also opened Huckabee’s Dallas office and has led the team to increase its client base in a rapidly-growing market. Most recently, Josh served as Office Director for the Dallas and Fort Worth offices, leading the development of solid relationship with clients, new business opportunities for the firm, and the growth of internal team members.

“Integrity is the foundational principle of this organization,” said Josh. “And, it will continue to drive us into the future, along with our commitments to ‘collective wisdom,’ empowerment, mentorship and continuous improvement. I am humbled and excited to lead this next chapter of the Huckabee story.”

Josh graduated from Texas Tech University in 2003 with a Master’s in Architecture and has spent his entire career at Huckabee. He and his family live in Prosper, Texas. He currently serves on the PISD Education Foundation Board and is an active member of the Prosper community.

Huckabee Announces Promotions

By | News

Huckabee announced the appointment of five new Associate Shareholders, two new Office Directors and seven new Principals to the leadership team. These moves represent our commitment to best serve our clients, to continue our pattern of growth and to develop the next generation of Huckabee leaders.

“Huckabee’s culture is one of empowerment, mentorship and service,” said Josh Brown, President of Huckabee. “We are excited to recognize the expertise these individuals bring to their clients and our company, and we look forward to seeing the many ways in which they will realize success and empower others through their work.”

Huckabee’s newest Associate Shareholders join a team of 12 employee Shareholders and two current Associate Shareholders. In their role they support the strategic vision of the firm. The newest Associates include:

  • LaShae Baskin, RID, Principal and Office Director of Austin
  • Andre Brackens, Principal and Office Director of Dallas
  • Mike Hall, AIA, Austin Director of Design
  • Brendon Hoffman, AIA, Principal in our Houston office
  • Paul Thompson, AIA, Principal and Office Director of Fort Worth

Paul Thompson has also been named the Office Director of Fort Worth, and Andre Brackens has been named the Office Director of Dallas. Paul and Andre joined Huckabee in 2014 and currently serve as Principals.

Huckabee’s newest Principals include:

  • Alex Araujo, AIA, LEED AP, in our San Antonio office
  • Dan Luttrell, AIA, LEED AP, in our San Antonio office
  • Shannon Bearden, AIA, in our Fort Worth office
  • Dave Gustaf, AIA, LEED AP, in our Fort Worth office
  • Corrie Hood, RA, LEED AP, in our Fort Worth office
  • Joe Tremblay, RA, in our Dallas office
  • Tim Barnes, AIA, in our Houston office

Huckabee is a full-service architecture and engineering firm that is exclusively committed to educational planning and design. We have served our clients for over 54 years.

Confirmed to TxSSC Board

By | News

Kerri Brady’s second appointment to the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) Board was confirmed by the Texas Senate this week. She remains the first and sole architect on the 17-member board. The TxSSC Board reports to the Governor, the legislature, the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency regarding school safety and security. They also advise the Texas School Safety Center on its function, budget and strategic planning initiatives. 

Kerri was first appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Board in 2019, and re-appointed to her second term in 2020 pending Senate confirmation. She brings expertise in the areas of school architecture, safety and security, planning and research. 

At Huckabee, Kerri serves as Vice President of Educational Practice; leads our educational research efforts at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative; led efforts to rewrite the school facility standards for the state of Texas (including school safety revisions); and has participated in several working groups focused on school safety and security. Her passion to create positive changes in education through her work motivates all that she does.

MORE Momentum: Wichita Falls

By | News

Wichita Falls ISD is in the midst of consolidating their three high school campuses into two new facilities. The new high schools are designed to embrace the district’s bold vision for online learning. They feature a unique configuration of spaces that reflect a new approach to “classroom” capacity and utilization. While the district’s vision for online learning started well before 2020, the schools were designed almost entirely through virtual charrettes during the height of the pandemic. This perspective helped inform the design solution in creative ways. Huckabee’s latest MORE Momentum explores the district’s approach to onsite, online learning and how to plan for the types of spaces needed to support a shift in student interaction within a high school campus. 

Our guests include:

  • Michael Kuhrt, Superintendent, Wichita Falls ISD
  • Tom Lueck, AIA, Chief Operating Officer, Huckabee
  • Greg Louviere, AIA, Director of Design, Huckabee
  • Mike Vermeeren, AIA, Director of Planning, Huckabee

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #8: Educational Transformation below.

Introduction

Huckabee and our partners at BYSP Architects had the privilege of working with Wichita Falls ISD to design a prototype for two new high school campuses. The schools are being constructed at the same time and will replace the district’s three existing high schools when complete. 

Question 1—To kick us off, I’d like to ask Michael about your district and why your community opted to build two high schools at one time.    

Wichita Falls ISD’s oldest high school is a 1922 building. Their two “new” high schools were built in 1961 and 1962. At that point, people anticipated growth but it never came. Today, the high schools range from 900 to 1,600 students and don’t offer parity. The district wouldn’t be able to rebuild three new high schools, and the community didn’t want to consolidate into one large high school. The solution was to design two equal high schools (based on a prototype), that would offer parity in all aspects. 

Preparing for the Bond

Question 2—What process did you take your community through to set the groundwork for today?  

Wichita Falls ISD had a failed bond in 2014 to address the high schools. From that process, the community realized its support of a career tech center. A bond passed in 2015 for a new CTE building, but it didn’t address major facility issues at the high schools. After a facilities study, the district realized that each high school needed over $20 million each to simply fix major problems, but that didn’t account for new or updated items to improve the learning environment or create equity and opportunity. 

In preparation for a 2020 bond election, the district worked with the community and found the right solution that would address the high school needs. The momentum started with the opening of the new career tech center from the 2015 bond. The community saw that building and wanted the same experience for all of their kids at all of their high schools. The bond passed in November 2020 to replace the three high schools with two and start a new era for Wichita Falls ISD.

Guiding Vision

Question 3—What was your guiding vision for these schools?   

Wichita Falls ISD tends to keep buildings for 100 years. The district has seven campuses that are about to be 100 years old. They knew the high schools needed to retain relevance well into the future. They wanted buildings that were flexible and adaptable. The district believed that the way brick and mortar buildings are used today may become obsolete in the future. The design of the high schools integrates spaces for online learning but also emphasizes the value fine arts and athletics brings to a student’s experience. 

Space and Needs for Online Learning

Question 4—Related to online learning, what were your projected needs?   

COVID-19 was an unplanned pilot for the district. Freshman and sophomores struggled more with virtual learning than juniors and seniors. The same is true for online learning outside of a pandemic. The goal of the design is to create a college atmosphere where students have choice in how they take a class (in-person or online) and when (buildings open from 7 AM to 7 PM to accommodate student needs). There are flex spaces designed into the building that support online learning; a student can take a class online while on the campus and still be a part of the culture of learning. 

Planning

Question 5—How did the conversation evolve to address Wichita Falls ISD’s vision?   

As the program was developed, the team realized it would be an innovative approach. They considered the total number of students (a capacity of 1,900) against where they would be at any given moment: in a classroom, at the CTE center, in fine arts or athletics. The total capacity for general ed classrooms was then pared down to about 700 students at a single moment, of which a large percentage could be online learning outside of the classroom. As a result, the team was able to decrease the total number of general ed classrooms and transition that space into flexible environments within classroom wings and the commons. The result was improved efficiency of space and space that was adaptable in a number of ways. The district also removed classroom ownership with the idea that teachers wouldn’t be losing a classroom, they would be gaining a building. This further improved utilization.

Notably, designing in a virtual setting helped the team better understand the holistic needs of students and educators related to the integration of online learning within the campus. The district’s unique approach introduces 9th graders to online learning within the classroom and slowly engages them in online learning outside of the classroom (but within the campus) through 10th grade. By 11th and 12th grade, students have a higher comfort level and more autonomy to take full advantage of the blended environment created through the design of their high school. 

Design Response

Question 6—What was BYSP + Huckabee’s design response to Wichita Falls ISD’s needs?

With blended learning, the team understood that space needed to be engaging and that it wasn’t a static element. The team looked at the design as a way to create a dynamic continuity of choices that could be made. This meant understanding the tools needed by students and educators for face-to-face or online learning, intermixed with individual or group work. The design offers a great deal of flexible learning space. 

The Commons

Question 7—How do you forsee students using the commons?

BYSP + Huckabee worked with Wichita Falls ISD to identify the tools, spaces, activities and zones students needed within this blended environment. The team created spaces that could transform over time or in the next few minutes in response to student needs. The commons became the core of the building and created a gradation of space from the private, individual learning space to places that allowed students to congregate on soft seating and into an active dining zone. The design team used the term “structured flexibility” to define the commons.  

Takeaways

Question 8—What can other districts take away from this approach?

First, we have a better understanding of online learning. As a result, we know that a blended environment that incorporates online learning (on campus and off) can work. Second, the concept of structured flexibility related to utilization applies to all spaces. Wichita Falls used the concept not only in the commons but in the design of their auditorium. They didn’t want a single space in the school that couldn’t be used in multiple ways; the auditorium can be split into small or large group space and used throughout the day for instruction. Finally, the district wanted students to be prepared for the future and to know their value through the investment of the community. The consolidation of three schools into two will give all students better opportunity. 

Bonus Content: Safety and Security

Bonus content—How do you address safety and security within a large, open environment?

The existing high schools in Wichita Falls ISD have 10-12 entrances, yet the two replacement high schools will only have four controlled entrances. Additionally, while the commons was designed to provide a large, open space, the design team embedded short distances to secure locations. With an open and transparent environment, school resource officers can also stand at a single point and observe student behavior; the dark hallways found in the aging high schools are a thing of the past. 

Notably, the compact nature of the building will allow the district to keep the 4-5 minute passing period as opposed to expanding to a 7-8 minute passing period as they move into the larger campus. 

Two New High Schools for Wichita Falls ISD

About MORE Momentum

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series started as an exploration of how school districts were investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during the pandemic. In 2021, we are transitioning the series to highlight school planning and design and the unique ways our clients are building toward the future. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In for the latest MORE Momentum webinars. 

2021 Caudill Class

By | Clients

Huckabee is excited to celebrate with our partners, Georgetown ISD and Northwest ISD, in receiving the highest honor for educational design in Texas – the Caudill Award! The TASA/TASB Exhibit of School Architecture competition showcases new and renovated Texas schools and celebrates excellence in planning and design of the learning environment. We are thrilled to have two Caudill award-winning projects in each of the past two years. It is in large part to our partnership with visionary districts who continue to influence school design and pursue the best environments for their students. Read more about the 2020-21 Caudill Award winners by clicking here.

The winning projects received at least four stars from six areas of distinction, making them eligible for the Caudill Award, which is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914–1983), whose progressive concepts continue to influence school design.

Georgetown ISD won for the retrofitting of Tippit Middle School. This is the second Caudill Award for Georgetown ISD (Hammerlun Center for Leadership and Learning) and its third project to receive consideration (Wagner Middle School). Click here to learn more about the project. Northwest ISD won for the reimagining of its elementary prototype, Lance Thompson Elementary School. Click here to learn more about the project. 

Power Supers Blog

By | Clients

Superintendents have innumerable superpowers—mentoring and guiding aspirational leaders is one many of them share. Huckabee is excited to launch a new blog, Power Supers, that focuses on stories of fortitude, growth and inspiration. Dr. Jim Vaszauskas, a life-long educator and administrator, is helping us “travel” the state to visit with educational leaders and share their stories in hopes of uplifting others.

The first stories in the series feature Dr. Brad Lancaster, former superintendent of Lake Travis ISD, who shares about the importance of relationship building; and Dr. Marc Smith, whose focus on simplification and anticipation has helped him realize success as superintendent of Duncanville ISD. To read these, and follow along as new stories are posted, visit the blog at PowerSupers.com. 

2020 TASA / TASB Awards

By | Clients

Northwest ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and Georgetown ISD have been recognized by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) for their design and instructional vision. Their school designs received Stars of Distinction in this year’s TASA / TASB Exhibit of School Architecture; two of the schools, Lance Thompson Elementary School (Northwest ISD) and James Tippit Middle School (Georgetown ISD), also qualified for the prestigious Caudill Class.

The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury, which includes: four school board members, four school administrators, and four members from the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) Southern Region. The juried exhibit awarded Stars of Distinction for Excellence to 25 projects in one or more of the following six areas: design, value, sustainability, community, planning, and school transformation. Click below to view the submissions.

Stars of Distinction for each campus include:

Investing in Public Education

By | News

Texas public education matters, and Huckabee continues to actively support and advocate for our partners in education as we collectively address critical needs. As a Board Member of the North Texas Commission, our CEO, Chris Huckabee, has joined numerous business and education leaders across the state to ask our elected officials to address public education recovery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Huckabee firm is supportive of this initiative.

Nineteen major business and education associations, backed by hundreds of public education advocates, signed a letter on June 29 urging elected leaders to enable a statewide task force to assess the challenges posed by COVID-19 to public education in six key areas:

  1. Maintenance of funding
  2. Connectivity, access to technology and contingency planning
  3. Professional development
  4. Assessment and support for students
  5. Health and safety
  6. Acknowledgement of the economic cost of inaction.

Read the letter here.

Through the North Texas Commission, Chris was also asked to join Dr. Susan Bohn, Aledo ISD Superintendent, to co-chair the Education & Workforce Task Force. The group has been charged to develop a list of legislative priorities that require action in the 87th Texas Legislative Session. The success of the previous legislative session brought finance reform to public education, yet, it remains critical that these reforms remain part of a long-term strategy to invest in Texas school districts.

“Together, we made great progress for public education in 2019, but COVID-19 will certainly create budget challenges for the legislature,” said Chris. “We will need a solid and unified voice in Austin this January to keep the ground we have gained and prevent challenges that a lack of funding will create.”

MORE Momentum: Real Estate

By | News

Huckabee’s most recent on-demand webinars highlight the state of the market in three key areas: Bond Sales / Financing, Real Estate and Construction. The second of this series looks at the real estate market with a focus on selecting and purchasing land for new school buildings.

Our guest is George Curry of JLL, a commercial real estate firm. George has helped Texas public school districts locate and purchase land for dozens of schools (elementary to high school) over the last several years. George is joined by Gary Rademacher, a Principal at Huckabee, who has served as an architect for Texas school districts for nearly 30 years.

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #5: Real Estate below. You can view the webinar in its entirety by clicking here.

Introduction

Since the start of the pandemic, what are you seeing in the real estate market? Clients are asking how the pandemic will impact their ability to negotiate and purchase land. Is now a good time to buy?

There hasn’t been much of a change to this point. Up until March, the market was hot and Texas was doing well. It has certainly cooled some, but we haven’t seen any changes as far as land prices are concerned. 

In DFW, we continue to have a good market. Globally, as far as Texas is concerned, DFW, Austin and San Antonio are steady, but Houston has taken it on the chin. They’ve been hit with a double whammy from the virus and low oil prices.

Advice for School Districts

Buy Buy Buy! The market has been strong over the past 3-5 years and prices are continuing to escalate, especially around major metroplexes. There may be a small window in the next 3-12 months where prices may not go down, but instead, may take a pause. It’s a good time to lock down sites which may go up in price over the next few years. 

Working with Developers

Recently, developers seem more willing to donate land if they have a mega-site, somewhere between 200-500 acres for a development. However, with smaller acreage sites (100-200 acres), developers aren’t as willing to give land freely for schools. There’s been more resistance to donating land as homes sales have been strong.

Selecting the Right Piece of Land

The school site is important to school districts for many reason. When a school district is receiving donated land or purchasing land, they are making decisions about property that will serve them for decades. What should school districts focus on when considering a purchase?

People look for the best price or low cost, but I advise clients to get the right location. Get the best site near or in the right location and then try and get the best price you can. Some developers will go to a district and donate land, but the site is in a corner, or it’s too small or it’s got topography issues. This means that sometimes the free sites are the most expensive to develop. We try to focus on the best site in the development, and sometimes it doesn’t work out with donated land.

What else are you looking for?

Location is one of the most important things. We’ll meet with demographers and see where the growth is coming from. We’ll then search and try to find a site or multiple sites that could work in the area. Once you’ve identified a site, there are several things to consider: acreage, type of school and amenities, net usable acres, etc. It’s a good time to bring in partners, such as a civil engineer, to assess the site and estimate costs for development.

Additional Advice

Some of the most challenging sites have been the free or the “best deal” sites. Focus on the best site first, and then work on price. Price is about 3-8 percent of the total cost of a school, so you are dealing with a relatively small component of overall price. It’s critical to get it right. Having the right partners (real estate agent, civil engineer, architect) up front will help you down the road. Being diligent is important to respecting your taxpayers.

To learn more about JLL, click here.

About MORE Momentum

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series highlights how our educational partners are investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during this unprecedented “pause.” We will explore themes related to bonds, planning, design and safety and security, among other topics that impact Texas public education. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, or complete the form below to get a first look as new content is released. 

For the full webinar, click below

Keep the momentum going!
Reach out to our Huckabee Communications team to learn MORE.

More Momentum
Sending

MORE Momentum: Bond Market

By | News

Huckabee’s next three on-demand webinars highlight the state of the market in three key areas: Bond Sales / Financing, Real Estate and Construction. The first of this series looks at the school bond market and the impact of COVID-19 on bond sales. Our guest is Derek Honea of RBC Capital Markets, a financial advisor and underwriter for public school districts.

Derek walks through the current state of the municipal bond market and the impact to school districts who are looking to sell bonds, move up the sale of bonds or refinance, as well as those concerned about underlying credit ratings.

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #4: Bond Market below. You can view the webinar in its entirety by clicking here.

Introduction

What are you seeing in the bond market today with the impact of COVID-19?

It’s rare to see the municipal bond market shut down. School districts couldn’t access the capital markets, and it’s one of the only times in the past couple of decades that we’ve seen this, except for in 2008 / 2009. We are through that time now and getting back to normalcy.

Interest Rates + Moving up the Sale of Your Bonds

The municipal bond market essentially shut down at the beginning of the pandemic. Today, it’s open for business as usual and rates are steadily returning to at or near all-time lows. It’s an attractive time to lock-in a long-term rate.

Determining if it’s the right time to move up bond sales and take advantage of the rates is case-by-case. Typically, clients fall into two camps: Fast-growth districts who have strategically timed out their capital improvement plans and districts who have bond authorizations approved but have flexibility in their timing to sell. Things we consider in either case include impact to current rates, taxable assessed values, enrollment and the economy.

Interest Rates + Refinancing

We operate in two markets: Tax exempt and taxable interest rates. Both markets were shut down for awhile; tax exempt markets came back much sooner. The taxable market is just now returning to where we were in February, and we are seeing a lot of interest in refinancing taxable rates. These look really attractive, and we are generating a lot of debt-rate savings for school districts. If we can capture significant savings for clients, we will recommend that they refinance now.

Bond Market + Assessed Values

There is increased demand from investors for Permanent School Fund guaranteed paper, some of the highest credit bonds on the market. These are especially appealing given what’s occurring with corporate debt and corporate credits becoming distressed. We are seeing crossover buyers and European buyers investing in taxable bonds. Over the short term, we don’t see this demand decreasing. We are in a stable spot for interest rates over the next six months, although the presidential election could impact the market, including state and local debt.

In regards to taxable assessed values, we anticipate a large protest process which may impact certified values. Values for this school year were assigned before the pandemic; next year’s values will have fully accounted for its impact. We are advising clients who have flexibility in their sales to wait and see what the certified values look like. This gives you more data when structuring the debt. There may be ongoing impact in the coming years as well, and this is something for school districts to consider as they are developing bond programs.

Underlying Credit Ratings

Outside of local issues, RBC has been asked about the impact of COVID-19 to a district’s underlying credit rating, which could increase borrowing costs in the long-run. The rating agencies have put out a lot of information on what the impact could be, but we haven’t seen many credit rating downgrades for Texas school districts. This is something to keep an eye on as the impact of the pandemic continues to flow through the market.

Final Takeaways

The market is open, and school districts who have needs, have a plan in place and feel confident about their local economy can lock in historically-low interest rates. For those who have flexibility, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your advisors and demographer to asses changes to enrollment, local economy and community needs.

To learn more about RBC Capital Markets, click here.

About MORE Momentum

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series highlights how our educational partners are investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during this unprecedented “pause.” We will explore themes related to bonds, planning, design and safety and security, among other topics that impact Texas public education. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, or complete the form below to get a first look as new content is released. 

For the full webinar, click below

Keep the momentum going!
Reach out to our Huckabee Communications team to learn MORE.

More Momentum
Sending

MORE Momentum: TxSSC

By | News

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series highlights how our educational partners are investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during this unprecedented “pause.” We will explore themes related to bonds, planning, design and safety and security, among other topics that impact Texas public education. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, or complete the form below to get a first look as new content is released. 

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #3: Texas School Safety Center below. You can view the webinar in its entirety by clicking here.

Introduction

The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) released the “Education Facilities COVID-19 Recovery / Re-opening Appendix,” that serves as an addendum to the Communicable Disease annex (as part of a school district’s Emergency Operations Plan). This new document focuses on COVID-19 and offers comprehensive guidance to school districts related to the re-opening of facilities and development of ongoing safety measures. Each section addresses the impact to facilities, transportation and people.

It’s important to note that each individual school district has an opportunity to develop a unique response to COVID-19, and the Appendix can be adapted to local needs and priorities. Every campus and every community is different, and the guidance offered by TxSSC is a starting point that will need to be vetted, modified and approved locally before becoming part of a school district’s approach to combatting the spread of COVID-19.

In this webinar, we talk through some of the strategies that are likely to have the greatest impact in mitigating COVID-19. We also speak with school district administrators and personnel to understand the challenges and questions that may arise while exploring these draft guidelines.

Our Guests: 

  • Kerri Ranney, VP of Educational Practice at Huckabee and member of the TxSSC Board
  • Jeff Caldwell, Associate Director of School Safety Readiness at TxSSC
  • Pat Fowler, Infectious Disease Control Consultant, Teel Consulting
  • Dr. Fred Brent, Superintendent, Georgetown ISD
  • Denisse Baldwin, Principal, Purl Elementary School, Georgetown ISD
  • LaToya Easter, Principal, East View High School, Georgetown ISD

Consideration: Masks

Wearing masks is a good example of a strategy that a school district could evaluate and modify based on the priorities of their community. Our guests talk through the value of wearing masks while also considering the challenges and impact of this option when working with a larger, and younger, population.

Considerations: General Facility

It is not likely that every campus can, or should, do everything recommended in TxSSC’s guiding document. It is imperative that each school district determine the feasibility of the recommendations related to their community. In this section, we talk through general facility considerations such as disinfecting efforts, the use of hand sanitizing stations, the use of plexiglass and guidance from the EPA.

Considerations: Main Entry Protocols

Entry and exit protocols will differ between elementary, middle and high schools, as well as urban, suburban or rural schools. Considerations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 should complement, and not deter, gains school districts have made related to safety and security procedures. Whether considering the use of multiple entrances, staggered start times or other methods, school districts should attempt to find a balance between these varying needs.

Considerations: Classrooms

There are many ways for school districts to utilize the classroom and campus if social distancing is implemented. In this section, we explore guidance related to the use of classrooms and some of the considerations and questions that go hand-in-hand with creative utilization. For more information on this topic, email info@huckabee-inc.com to gain access to Huckabee’s TASA Summer Conference presentation: Campus Utilization—Adapting Space to Meet Multiple Needs. 

Considerations: Hallways

There are many methods for limiting crowding in hallways without removing key social / emotional aspects of school or impacting instructional time. In their COVID-19 Appendix, TxSSC offers guidance on numerous scenarios that can be considered by elementary, middle and high school campuses.

Considerations: Restrooms

Several things can be considered when addressing the spread of COVID-19 within restrooms, including the emphasis of good personal hygiene, education of hand washing and sanitizing protocols, and reduction of contact points needed for access.

Considerations: Cafeteria

Guidance from TxSSC within cafeteria and dining spaces focuses on keeping students and employees safe. Considerations for school districts include exploring where and how meals are served and the implications to staffing and process. TxSSC also offers the idea of using a local health department to analyze and provide recommendations for best practices.

Considerations: Extracurricular Activities

Community and campus spread may impact how school districts restructure and/or resume extracurricular activities.

Final Thoughts

With guidance from TxSSC and others, we hope school districts have a good idea for how to start the conversation and develop their own plan to return safely to school. If you would like to discuss the TxSSC document, how to develop your own priorities or explore campus utilization, please contact Huckabee at info@huckabee-inc.com.

For the full webinar, click below

Keep the momentum going!
Reach out to our Huckabee Communications team to learn MORE.

More Momentum
Sending

MORE Momentum: Planning

By | News

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series highlights how our educational partners are investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during this unprecedented “pause.” We will explore themes related to bonds, planning, design and safety and security, among other topics that impact Texas public education. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, or complete the form below to get a first look as new content is released. 

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #2: Planning below. You can be view the webinar in its entirety by clicking here.

As we find a sense of normalcy, many unknowns remain, especially for Texas schools. Despite the challenges, school districts can use this time to their advantage. Suzanne Marchman, a Director of Client Communications at Huckabee, visits with Dr. Bill Chapman, Superintendent of Jarrell ISD, and Mike Vermeeren, Director of Planning at Huckabee, to discuss how to gain insight and value into your short and long-term needs. This on-demand webinar focuses on ways Jarrell ISD is being intentional with their construction, operations and planning efforts, as well as ways in which school districts can engage in long-range planning (and its benefits) within a virtual work environment.

Q1: Tell us about Jarrell ISD and your needs going into 2020. 

Jarrell ISD, located north of Austin, is growing at a quick pace with double digit increases in enrollment each year. Until 2007, it had a single K-12 school. Today, it has two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.

The 2019-2020 school year focused on the opening of Igo Elementary School, construction to Jarrell High School and master planning at multiple campuses to address long-term capacity and evolving needs. Projections prior to COVID-19 placed Jarrell at capacity at the elementary level in 2.5 years and at the middle and high school levels in four. A strategic planning process was set to begin after Spring Break to address future bonds, but it was pushed back to summer following the shut-down of schools.

“We were beginning to look at those long-term growth needs and undergoing a master planning piece at the middle and high school campuses. We wanted to see just what were the capacities of those buildings, what could we do to those buildings to maximize our space. We are blessed with 120 acres at the high school site; how big could I build that structure to meet the needs of Jarrell High School as we grow? Then we can say, here’s what it can be, and what do we want it to be. Same with the middle school.” – Dr. Bill Chapman, Jarrell ISD

Q2: What has changed for Jarrell ISD since COVID-19?

Despite uncertainty, Jarrell ISD has continued to experience an increase in enrollment. They anticipate growth to continue and are working with demographers and developers to examine the pace and how it will impact their bond cycle in the coming year. While construction won’t stop, a slow-down may afford the district time to back off their building spree, push a bond out further and dive deeper into their needs. 

“How do you plan for the future when the kids are here, but they’re not here. In Jarrell ISD, we are still seeing growth; our enrollment has increased during COVID-19. We were speeding along I-35 with our cruise control at 70 miles per hour, but now we’ve backed down to 30. It’s allowed us to back off and really see what our needs are going to be, what does it look like in November, do I have to have a November bond.” – Dr. Bill Chapman, Jarrell ISD

Q3: What are ways school districts can take advantage of this “pause” to be intentional? 

Mike Vermeeren suggests that this “pause” can be viewed as a grace period, a time to reflect and plan. Visioning, master planning and long-range planning can all occur during this time, potentially with greater engagement and participation. 

(1) Long-Range Planning—The foundational elements of long-range planning (facility assessments, educational standards and capacity / utilization) can be addressed even within our current situation. Empty buildings are ideal for facility assessments, and Huckabee has a method to conduct these that requires minimal personnel. To take it further, existing floorpans can be used as a base for utilization analysis; compared against TEA standards and your educational delivery methods, we can develop an educational adequacy report and capacity analysis that complements data gathering efforts.

“In terms of looking at growth needs, aging needs and evolving needs of education, we can do all of that right now. In terms of looking at the future, we are successfully conducting visioning meetings virtually with groups of 5-20. We can do that right now using fun and engaging methods.” – Mike Vermeeren, Huckabee

(2) Engagement—Virtual settings create more opportunity to connect with your internal stakeholders and/or community. Planning is often rushed; we see school districts spend a great deal of time collecting the goods related to educational and facility planning but then rushing through the buy in. If you’ve recently gone through a planning process, or are interested in starting, this is a good time to roll out your plan to your stakeholders and help them understand the need by finding ways to reach them where they are most comfortable. 

TIP: Planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Now is a great time to collect data and start building your case for aging conditions, growth and evolving needs. And, there are many ways (and benefits) to engage your community and stakeholders virtually.

Q4: What are the benefits of long-range planning?

Long-range planning provides school districts with a clear understanding of needs, which helps them move forward strategically. The process creates a roadmap for future success—5, 10 or 20 years into the future. It also creates milestones that “trigger” the next step in the process, ensuring your plan isn’t derailed. Trigger points can be tied to a number of factors, but commonly relate to growth rate and capacity; they are a mechanism that is used to indicate when planning for the next building project should begin. 

TIP: Work with your planning committee to develop “trigger points” to keep you on track when implementing a long-range plan. Trigger points indicate a milestone, typically related to growth and capacity, that prompt you to begin the next step in your process. 

Q5: What opportunities have emerged for Jarrell ISD?

Time is the greatest opportunity for Jarrell ISD. They have been able to slow down (or speed up in one aspect) to capitalize on opportunity in several aspects of their operations, including: 

(1) Construction—Jarrell ISD had a chance to accelerate phases in their high school construction project. Without students in the space, the contractor was able to access the library and cafeteria earlier than expected. Jarrell and the contractor capitalized on this opportunity; this shift has the potential to offset a busy construction period during August, when contractors are wrapping up projects as students return. 

(2) Energy Savings—With schools closed, Jarrell utilized this time to analyze energy costs across all buildings. They realized savings potential in their administration building—an older, and smaller, space with energy cost above a new elementary school. As a result, they are making changes that will result in long-term savings. It’s an area that may have been overlooked had the district not had this opportunity to examine existing processes. 

TIP: Explore opportunities with current and potential construction projects to take advantage of the current climate. Can you accelerate your timeline by giving contractors access to empty spaces? Or, can you push a project to bid in today’s favorable market?

TIP: Look for value. Be open to examination of process and operations. Don’t be afraid of change.

Q6: How has Jarrell ISD addressed planning needs during this pause? What are your successes? 

In Jarrell, like many other school districts, they are constantly working toward the next goal at breakneck speed. This pause gave them time to dig into their goals, analyze their successes and examine what the future may hold (and how they should react). Prior planning efforts and the opportunity to build on those successes will allow Jarrell to best serve their community in this changing environment. 

(1) Technology—A big focus for Jarrell is technology. The planning they’d done before COVID-19 set them up for success when learning went virtual. They were able to react quickly to support their 1:1 culture, expand WiFi at community schools and provide hotspots to families. The district plans to continue their efforts around technology planning and will start targeting teacher and staff development in their next phase. 

(2) Community Engagement—An unexpected boon that may elevate the district’s future approach to community engagement, is the success they found in virtual meetings. “One of the benefits of this is that we had the best attendance to a district improvement plan we’ve ever had because no one had to come to the building. We had a virtual meeting. We had more parent participation, and so maybe we keep looking at this. There is no reason why we can’t use Zoom or Google Hangouts, things that our teachers are using. It’s an unintended consequence in a good way.” – Dr. Chapman

(3) Educational Delivery—Finally, the pause gave Jarrell the opportunity to examine educational delivery and ask, “Why is it this way, does it need to be this way, what is something else we can do?” Dr. Chapman has encouraged a mindset that has allowed for growth without fear of failure—a way of thinking that allows for greater innovation, especially during a crisis. “We have to have that focus on everything we do, and not just this one time transition. I think this will give us a better mindset as we move forward as a district, as a leadership team and as a teaching staff.”  – Dr. Chapman

TIP: Virtual meetings have the potential to create broader engagement with your stakeholders and community. Consider how these can be used to generate feedback, buy-in and collaboration.

Final Thoughts

Despite the unknowns, there is a great deal of opportunity during this time to reflect, assess and plan for the future. In closing, here are a few considerations that have led to success for Jarrell ISD:

TIP: Know the variables, it will help you make better decisions. For Jarrell, growth is one of the key variables. In light of a shifting real estate climate, they’ve increased their demographic reports from bi-annually to quarterly and have stayed in touch with local developers. This gives them real-time and projected insight into the market.
TIP: Don’t look at things the way you’ve always looked at them. Use this time to refocus and set new goals and areas of attention to develop yourself and your district.
TIP: Know your community. Know what they can handle. And, take the time to understand what matters to them. That will help you make better decisions to meet their, and your, needs.
For the full webinar, click below

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Midway ISD CTE Expansion

By | Clients

Midway ISD and Huckabee started design on a CTE expansion to Midway High School. The first charrette brought together students, teachers and district staff to share ideas and discuss program needs. The project centralizes CTE classrooms and labs into a more modern space. It will create opportunities for greater collaboration between programs and students, while also supporting long-term growth in CTE offerings. To read more, click here.

2019 Caudill Award Winners

By | Clients

Congratulations to Mansfield ISD and Georgetown ISD, recipients of the prestigious Caudill Award. Huckabee had the rewarding and exciting opportunity to help these districts express their vision through two unique facilities. The Dr. Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners (MISD) and the Hammerlun Center for Leadership and Learning (GISD) are among four schools to earn the highest honor in this year’s competition. Each project received at least four Stars of Distinction in the Exhibit of School Architecture (EoSA), qualifying them for consideration in the Caudill class.

Dr. Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners

The new 54,340 sf early learning academy brings museum-level engagement to the school environment. Designed for 3- and 4-year olds, it is 100 percent hands-on learning. The school is arranged into four pods, each with four interactive learning experiences that are play-based but purposeful (each element ties into curriculum). The pods also contain a multi-use commons, outdoor courtyard and age-appropriate amenities.

Macro to micro, the design of the Jandrucko Academy draws on curiosity and a sense of community inherent in adults and children. While structured—from thoughtful adjacencies and symmetrical composition to well-defined curriculum—it embraces play, imagination and freedom for educators to design learning to suit personality. The school was holistically created, with the intent to impact students, teachers and the community while irreversibly changing the way early learning is expressed.

The project won four Stars of Distinction in the areas of Design, Community, Planning and School Transformation. To view the submission, click here.

Hammerlun Center for Leadership and Learning

The project is an adaptive re-use of a historic and iconic 1924 building. Formerly a high school, junior high and elementary school, today, it is Georgetown ISD’s administration building / center for leadership and learning. It focuses wholly on adult learning, redefining the look, feel and purpose of training space. The design is rooted in the district’s Learner Profile, emphasizing choice and voice. It draws on context and innovation, maintaining building integrity while creating progressive learning environments.

The Hammerlun Center was named in memory of Jerry Hammerlun, a long-time Georgetown community member and community leader. Jerry was passionate about mentoring future leaders and ensuring his community embraced the future while honoring the past. He played a critical role in the vision of the new administration building before his passing in June 2017

The project won five Stars of Distinction in the areas of Design, Value, Community, Planning and School Transformation. To view the submission, click here.

The EoSA is sponsored by Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards. It recognizes excellence in planning and design of the learning environment. The Caudill Award is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914-1983). The architectural projects will be on display in the exhibit hall and the winners will be recognized at the 2020 TASA Midwinter Conference in Austin January 27-28.

School Safety Center Board

By | News

Kerri Ranney was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Texas School Safety Center Board. She is the first architect to be named to the 15-member board, and she joins fellow new appointees, Craig Bessent, Alan Trevino, Terry Deaver and Edwin Flores, Ph.D. The board reports to the Governor, the legislature, the State Board of Education, and the Texas Education Agency regarding school safety and security, and advises the center on its function, budget, and strategic planning initiatives. To learn more about recent appointees and sitting board members, click here.

Kerri is passionate about creating positive change through her work. She serves as our Vice President of Educational Practice; leads our educational research efforts at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative; led efforts to rewrite the school facility standards for the state of Texas (including school safety revisions); and has participated in several working groups focused on school safety and security. She is a champion for Texas students and educators!

Exhibit of School Architecture

By | Clients

Congratulations to Godley ISD, Rockwall ISD, Georgetown ISD and Mansfield ISD, your vision for four unique projects has been recognized through the TASA/TASB Exhibit of School Architecture awards! The awards program showcases new and renovated Texas schools and celebrates excellence in planning and design of learning environments. Projects are awarded Stars of Distinction in up to six categories for Design, Value, Sustainability, Community, Planning and School Transformation. Our client and firm award winners include:

Godley High School  |  Godley ISD

Star of Distinction in the Community category

Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy  |  Rockwall ISD

Star of Distinction in the School Transformation Category

Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners  |  Mansfield ISD

Caudill Class finalist, Star of Distinction in the Design, Community, Planning and School Transformation categories

Hammerlun Center for Leadership & Learning  |  Georgetown ISD

Caudill Class finalist, Star of Distinction in the Design, Value, Community, Planning and School Transformation categories

The Jandrucko Academy and the Hammerlun Center also ranked among the top six award winners and are eligible for the prestigious Caudill Class award, which will be announced in early 2020. Eligible projects include those that receive four or more Stars of Distinction.

Congratulations to our clients and project teams!

#3 in Giants 300

By | News

Building Design + Construction’s “Giants 300” list was released, and Huckabee was named #3 K-12 architecture / engineering firm in the nation. We are thankful for the recognition, but even more thankful for the relationships we have with our clients and the incredible work they invite us to be a part of.

Education has been our purpose, our sole focus for over 52 years, and we are proud to be recognized for work that we find so meaningful. Our firm has experienced incredible growth over the past decade, in direct response to the needs of our clients and the trust they’ve bestowed on us. It is our honor and privilege to serve the educational community, and we extend our thanks to our partners across Texas. We wouldn’t be here with you!

Click here to see the full list. “Giants 300″ ranks architecture, engineering and construction firms across 20+ building sectors and services.

Kerri Ranney Named POY

By | News

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) named Kerri Ranney, AIA, Esq., REFP, the 2019 Southern Region Planner of the Year (POY) at the annual conference in April. A surprise to Kerri, but no surprise to her colleagues and clients at Huckabee! Kerri’s Huckabee family joined her to celebrate the honor. 

Planner of the Year (POY) recognizes dedication and commitment to the growth and overall success of the region and industry. Kerri was nominated by her peers, followed by a committee review of her body of work, personal accomplishments and contributions. With the honor, Kerri will be considered for the International Lifetime Achievement Award competition in 2020.

“Besides being an incredible person, Kerri is the most genuine advocate I know for the planning process. She truly cares about helping clients get to the root of their needs. This diligence has delivered amazing outcomes for school districts time and time again. We are so proud of Kerri.”

Chris Huckabee, AIA, Chief Executive Officer

Kerri has a deep affection for Texas public schools and for the people who make them work day-in and day-out. She believes that the world’s toughest problems can be solved through education, and for Kerri, this means a commitment to help teachers and administrators think differently about how education is delivered and how space is designed. During her time at Huckabee, Kerri has been instrumental in establishing a meaningful and comprehensive planning process; in creating a research lab and subsequent studies focused on education; in working with clients to imagine the impossible; and in being a trusted advisor, mentor and friend to many people across the globe.

ABOUT KERRI

Kerri is Vice President of Educational Practice at Huckabee. She helps clients delve into educational planning, change management, instructional delivery and professional development. Kerri also leads Huckabee’s educational research initiative in partnership with Region 12 ESC and Baylor University.

Kerri joined Huckabee in 2013, bringing 13 years of experience in educational design. She was asked to lead the planning team and crafted the department around providing services that would help schools evolve the learning experience. Kerri’s work with school districts led to incredible innovation not just in the learning environment, but in how school districts approached professional development for educators.

When Huckabee opened an educational research lab, LEx Labs, at Baylor University in 2015, Kerri was instrumental in the long-term planning of the project. Since its opening, Kerri has worked with Huckabee’s research partners to complete four pilot studies and begin a longitudinal study focused on elementary education, flexible furniture and professional learning. Additionally, Kerri brings clients to LEx Labs to facilitate conversations about the future of education. She is a thought-leader in this discipline, and her contribution has allowed Huckabee to combine research, data and outcomes into school planning and design.

In 2016, Kerri joined Huckabee’s shareholder group, taking on an even greater role in establishing the firm’s direction for the future. She joined a team of shareholders that provide leadership to nearly 300 employees across six offices in Texas.

Today, Kerri continues to work with clients while also sharing her expertise with local, national and international audiences. She is actively involved in many professional organizations, including A4LE, and sits on and leads committees focused on school safety / security and educational standards. On a personal level, Kerri is actively involved in her local non-profit sector. She has a passion for organic farming and broadening access to nutritious and fresh options in “food deserts.” She currently serves as the Board Chair of Farmshare Austin, a non-profit organization focused on land preservation, food access and growing the next generation of organic farmers. In addition, she is the proud parent of Cash (10) and Tatum (9), and in her free time, enjoys earning Spartan trifectas.

It All Starts Here

By | News

“It All Starts Here” emphasizes the critical role public education plays in the future of Texas. Produced in partnership with TASA, the message stresses the importance of a shared commitment to education, along with focus on key issues such as full-day pre-K, better pay for all school employees, safety and security, and innovative programs. It is a reminder that an investment in education is an investment in the future of Texas. To learn more, click here.