BUDA, Texas (STPNS) -- The Hays CISD is in legal negotiations with engineers, builders and architects to regain money for what the district claims is faulty foundation work at Tobias Elementary School, district officials said.

Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff said the district will pay out $1.2 million to Bartlett Cocke construction to install French drains around the school, located on east FM 150 in Kyle.

"The foundation issues at Tobias are complicated, both legally and technically," said Hays CISD spokesperson Julie Jerome.



Scherff said the French drains will carry water away from the school's foundation and keep the expansive clay underneath the school from soaking with water and disrupting the school's slab. The walls on the west side of the school, Scherff said, have been cracking due to the shifting foundation.

"The building is perfectly safe," Scherff said. "There is no danger to anyone. We just need to correct the problem so there's no future damage or structural problems."

The school district believes that the geotechnical engineer, structural engineer, architect and the builder each share some measure of fault, Jerome said.

"Administration, in conjunction with legal counsel and independent engineering consultants, is seeking recovery of appropriate damages from each responsible party," Jerome wrote in an email. "Legal counsel has asked that we not discuss the specifics of the claims against any given party as this may be detrimental to our negotiating position."

The school, which opened in 2003, sits in an area that has seen significant changes in the past five years, Scherff commented. Now, the Tobias Elementary faces Post Oak subdivision with its 350 homes, which could build out to more than 800 homes.

More concrete from commercial and single-family growth surrounding the school, Scherff speculated, may have contributed to the problem by funneling water around the school's base.

"We have seen significant changes in the area," Scherff said. "Water that falls over there doesn't run into the ground anymore."