School Year is Nearing an End, But Bond Work is Revving Up for the Summer

Atherton Elementary on the city's northeast side is scheduled to open for students in August.

The school year is winding down for students, but for architects and construction companies working for HISD, the summer promises to be busier than ever.

More than 60 construction projects are slated to be in full swing when the school year ends June 6. The work will mark another milestone in the 2007 bond program, which has included more than 180 expansion, renovation and maintenance projects across the district.

More than 70 percent of the work is finished, with the remaining slated for completion by the end of 2014.

“We have a long list of work to do, from replacing roofs and HVACs to building new additions and renovating classrooms,” said Dillon Brady, HISD’s general manager for construction. “Our contractors will be working extreme hours to complete the required projects for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.”

When students return from summer vacation, they can expect to find renovated restrooms at Wainwright Elementary School and a new library addition at Southmayd Elementary School. But much of the work won’t be immediately visible, such as the new HVAC system at T.H. Rogers K-8 and Revere Middle School, and new fire, PA, and security systems at Deady Middle School.

The goal with all the summer work is to minimize disruptions to students and staff.

“We will work around the clock to ensure the successful start of school,” Brady said. “Our priority is to have these facilities ready for the students while staying on budget.”

Administrators are juggling bond work with the demands of summer school, which runs for most campuses from the second week in June through the third week of July.  At some schools, work will require students to be moved to a different campus for summer classes.

In all, about 17 of the schools slated for work this summer won’t be available to host summer school.  The administration has made accommodations to hold classes at nearby facilities. R.P. Harris Elementary School, for example, will hold summer classes at nearby Eliot Elementary School.

“We’re working closely with the principals to ensure they’re aware and on board of what’s going on and the necessity for alternate summer school arrangements in some cases,” Brady said.

Even as many renovation projects get underway this summer, the district expects to finish two of the three new schools currently under construction within the 2007 bond program. Both Dogan and Atherton elementaries are scheduled to open for students in August. Sherman Elementary will transition into its new facility during the fall semester.

“Opening a new school is always the highlight of any bond program, but we also know how important renovation and mechanical work is for creating a safe and suitable learning environment for our students and staff,” Brady said.