The Howe Independent School District’s board of trustees met July 17 and named Corgan Architecture as the firm that would assist with the planning and design of the district’s possible bond project — a new intermediary school.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of the partnership with Corgan, with members Bruce Dawsey and Jeff Denham absent from the meeting. The unanimous decision followed a special meeting last week in which Corgan, WRA Architects and four construction companies all presented half-hour pitches to the group in the hopes that they would be brought on board for the project. The board selected Gallagher Construction Services to serve as the construction manager agent in last week’s special meeting but held off on the decision between Corgan and WRA until this week.

“They were two very good firms and it was a very tough decision between the two,” board President Greg Akins said. “I think we would have been happy with either one of them, but you’ve got to select one and the nod went to Corgan.”

School districts often bring architects and builders on board before a bond election is called so projects and cost estimates can be developed and relayed to the public as well as school boards, which have the final say in whether to call a bond election. Hired firms typically do not receive payment until after a bond is passed.

Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson said the intermediary school project was developed with the help of a publicly-staffed community facilities team. No firm decisions have been made on where the building will go or what it will look like, but discussion at the board’s special meeting pointed toward a structure that is likely two be two-stories tall, hold roughly 200 students in fourth through sixth grades and replace the existing and unoccupied intermediate school along North Denny Street. And while no firm price tag has been assigned to the project, early estimates place the total between $15 million and $20 million.

Wilson said the construction of a new intermediate school would ease the district’s worsening growing pains.

“The elementary and middle school are near or at capacity,” Wilson said. “By removing three grade levels from those two campuses, we would be able to accommodate the current students and allow for a little bit of growth at those two campuses.”

Board member Brad Anderson said, based upon Corgan’s pitch, he felt the firm was receptive to collaboration during the design process as well the board’s and the community facilities team’s desire to incorporate aspects of the old intermediate school’s Art-Deco style.

“It seemed, to me, like Corgan was a little bit more open to some community input and maybe to using some of the architecture of the current school,” Anderson said.

With an architecture and construction group picked, Wilson said the vision for the new intermediate school will soon become more clear.

“We’ll hit the ground running, meet with both those firms and start that process of looking at the district needs, the design of that building,” Wilson said. “And if and when we make the decision to call the election, then our job will be to educate the citizens of Howe ISD about our current needs.”

Should the board decide to call a November bond election, it will have to do so by mid-August in order to comply with state election laws.