Dallas Firm Jacobs Lands $517M Contract in Austin ISD’s $2.4B Modernization

As urban areas grow fast, modernizing dated school facilities is an increasing challenge for districts. Jacobs says its Austin contract includes renovations, technology upgrades, and new facilities aimed at bolstering student mental health, nutrition, and athletic programs.

Dallas-based engineering giant Jacobs has been selected as one of three program managers for the Austin Independent School District’s ambitious $2.4 billion capital improvement campaign, the largest in the district’s history.

Jacobs’ part of the project is a 5-year, $517 million contract to oversee the modernization of 10 Austin schools, which includes renovations, technology upgrades, and new facilities aimed at bolstering student mental health, nutrition, and athletic programs.

In a news release, Jacobs People and Places Solutions Americas South Senior Vice President and General Manager Katus Watson said Austin’s historic voter-approved bond program supports the ISD in delivering “benefits to the community for decades to come.”

With aging infrastructure plaguing many school districts nationwide, the company’s program management expertise aims to help revitalize learning environments.

“Jacobs’ core values and those of Austin ISD are very closely aligned with a common vision of developing our next generation of leaders,” Watson said in a statement. 

Planned improvements in Austin ISD range from basic infrastructure upgrades like new heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and roofing to more innovative additions such as on-campus mental health centers, community food pantries, enhanced visual and performing arts facilities, refreshed athletic complexes, renovated special education and early childhood classrooms, revamped kitchens and serving areas, and new playground equipment and outdoor learning spaces.

Jacobs will work with Atlanta construction management firm Turner & Townsend Heery, according to a news release.

Jacobs’ selection also highlights its commitment to inclusion. The firms joined forces with specialist minority-owned subcontractors across Texas to form a diverse project team aligned with the ISD’s goals. The team includes Dallas-based minority-owned firm Olivier, Inc., as well as Austin’s Encotech Engineering Consultants and Houston’s Project Management Group, LLC.

Together, the minority-owned subconsultants represent approximately 30% of the total project team, according to Jacobs.

With roots dating back to 1881, Austin ISD has grown into the eighth-largest school district in Texas, serving over 73,000 students across 113 schools in one of the state’s fastest-growing metro areas, Jacobs said.

This is not Jacobs’ first time working with the Austin district. The company previously supported the ISD with program management expertise for its $450 million “Children First Bond Program” between 1996 and 2001.

Jacobs was recently named the No. 1 program management firm globally for the third consecutive year on the Engineering News-Record Top 50 list for 2023.

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