Out with the old, in with the new.
That’s how Fort Worth ISD is approaching its new administration building — at least for the furniture that will be spread throughout the renovated office. The district plans to spend up to $3 million to furnish the new administration building, 7060 Camp Bowie Blvd.
The school board approved the purchase in an 8-0 vote, with trustee Anael Luebanos absent. Irving-based Business Interiors was awarded the contract.
Trustee Anne Darr questioned administrators over whether the district needed to spend that much.
“It is a sizable purchase, and I want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence,” Darr said.
Chief Financial Officer Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria pointed out that the purchase would be funded through a special fund created after the sale of the current administration building, 100 N. University Drive.
The Central Administration building sold for $5 million in 2020, and the district has spent $600,000 a year to rent the building. Some trustees have questioned the decision to sell that building and the plan to spend $37 million to renovate the west Fort Worth building.
When the school board approved that sale, trustees also established a specific-use fund called real estate sales proceeds fund, Arrieta-Candelaria said. The proceeds could have been added into the general fund without a designation, she added.
Darr asked if the funds from the central office sale could have been used for other purposes, such as stipends or salaries for teachers.
Arrieta-Candelaria confirmed the school board could have done that. However, because trustees in 2020 decided to dedicate the money for future capital projects, they could not shift these funds to another use, Arrieta-Candelaria said.
The CFO asked the school board to take a step back and consider the ramifications of how to spend funds that can be used once.
“If you sell a capital asset, the best practice is to invest in other capital assets. Salaries and those other expenditures you mentioned are ongoing commitments,” Arrieta-Candelaria told Darr.
The school board member also questioned whether administrators considered moving the furniture already in the Central Administration building before buying new equipment. Darr described the current furniture as old and tired.
Deputy Superintendent Karen Molinar said the new administration building is different for the existing offices.
The new central office will have more modern facilities that come with some built-in furniture. However, offices inside will either be smaller or be part of cubicles in an open space. The current administration building has more individual offices, she said.
Additionally, the new administration building is putting departments that have been spread throughout a building or across the district into one area, Molinar said.
The furniture purchase also calls for the fixtures for a new school board room with stadium seating and furnishings for a cafeteria.
Molinar also brought up another need in the new office: Administration needs high-density filing cabinets for the district’s records. She described these cabinets as massive and the room in which they will go has to be built differently.
More than 300 employees are expected to move to the new building, according to Fort Worth ISD.
District officials expect the new administration building to be substantially completed by July 31, 2023.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.