Case Studies

Jimmy Jones – Georgetown Independent School District

Investing in students, improving the learning experience

In the face of rapid population growth, school districts nationwide feel the mounting pressure to provide adequate infrastructure for the ever-increasing number of students.

Jimmy Jones is meeting this challenge as director of construction and development for the Georgetown Independent School District in Texas.

“My team and I are in a crucial position responsible for ensuring that existing schools are well-maintained and that new schools are constructed to meet the growing demand,” Jones says.

GISD, in a suburb north of Austin, covers a vast area of 180.3 square miles, serving not only Georgetown but also the city of Weir and the communities of Serenada and Walburg. The district boasted an enrollment of about 13,400 students in 2023, with a constant growth rate of 4 to 4.5 percent. This growth presents challenges and opportunities for the district, and Jones has been at the forefront, spearheading efforts to set up better processes in construction and development.

Jones serves as the linchpin in the planning, developing and maintaining school facilities, but his role extends beyond routine repairs. He must anticipate future needs, assess the impact of population growth, and strategize to create an optimal learning environment for students.

“Population growth within a school district inevitably leads to overcrowding in classrooms, limited resources and can compromise the quality of education,” Jones says. “By constructing new schools, we can alleviate the strain on existing campuses and provide students with the necessary space, resources and opportunities for their development.”

This proactive approach ensures that students are placed in classrooms with manageable class sizes, allowing teachers to provide more individualized attention and foster a better learning experience.

“Supporting our current growth and preparing for continued growth is one of my primary goals,” he says.

A need for new schools

As companies flock to Texas, the Georgetown district experiences substantial growth, necessitating the construction of two elementary schools and a middle school. Jones says these new schools aim to accommodate the rising numbers of students while providing them with the best possible educational opportunities.

When completed in the summer of 2024, San Gabriel Elementary School will be the district’s 11th elementary school. It is being built in the fast-growing community of Santa Rita Ranch, and its design is based on successful models from other recently opened elementary schools in the district.

“Leveraging existing plans allows for cost savings and expedited construction,” he notes.

The new San Gabriel Elementary School will serve kindergarten through fifth-grade students and is projected to cost about $57.6 million to build—funding for this project and the other schools was approved by voters in a 2021 bond. The second elementary school, currently called ES12, is expected to cost around $57 million and will have the capacity for 850 K-5 students. Construction for that school could start in the summer of 2024.

Another significant project in Jones’ portfolio is constructing a new Benold Middle School in the Parmer Ranch neighborhood. This facility aims to accommodate the rapid growth in the district’s western part, ensuring students can access quality education without overcrowding.

Once completed, students zoned for the previous Benold Middle School would transition to the new campus. The old Benold campus would then be repurposed as a future elementary school, optimizing existing resources and planning for the district’s future needs.

A better education

Constructing a future-ready learning center to bring together students of all ages for collaborative learning experiences is also underway for GISD.

This state-of-the-art complex would house advanced career and technical education programs, a high school, a program for at-risk students, an early learning center and a health and wellness center.

Jones says the $102.5 million project construction began in the summer of 2022 and is set to be completed by the summer of 2024, providing a beacon of educational excellence for future generations.

Jones’s commitment to fostering growth in the district extends beyond physical construction. He aims to revolutionize the processes within his department, ensuring successful projects not just in the present but also in the future.

“I want to make the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars, eliminating unnecessary expenses while delivering high-quality facilities,” he says.

One significant change he implemented was in the choice of flooring material for new schools. There will be no more traditional waxed floors—instead, more modern, durable products that require less maintenance and save money in the long run are being utilized.

“This dedication to doing things better sometimes rubs some people the wrong way, but I am steadfast in my belief that providing real value for the money spent is of utmost importance,” Jones says.

This belief means he pushes for projects that he believes are essential, even if it means challenging the status quo. His vision and determination are instrumental in creating buildings and spaces that provide exceptional value to the entire community.

Building a career

Before joining the school district, Jones worked in the private sector. However, in 2008, he felt a calling to work in school districts and discovered a true passion for improving educational facilities.

Living in Georgetown since 2000, he had his eyes set on the position in the district, eager to make a difference in his own community.

“School facilities have longer lifespans, over 30 years, than other facilities of the same size,” Jones says. “It is very important to dedicate the time necessary to study and analyze how our buildings will meet the teaching and learning goals of the district and our students and teachers.”

Through his tireless efforts and unwavering dedication, Jones plays a crucial role in shaping the future of education in his community.

From building new schools to creating better processes, he ensures that the district accommodates enrollment growth and provides students with exceptional educational opportunities.

“I hope my passion for education and commitment to excellence will forever leave a lasting impact on the Georgetown Independent School District, its students, and the entire community it serves,” he says.

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. I 2024 Edition here.

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