This summer will mark turning point for bond program

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Every summer is hectic for HISD’s construction department, but the summer of 2016 is shaping up to be one for the record books as the district’s $1.89 billion Bond Program reaches a critical turning point.

With construction underway at about two dozen campuses and six new school buildings planned to open for the start of the new school year, there has never been a busier time for the district’s building programs.

“This summer is really pivotal. We have our first batch of schools opening up, other schools are starting construction, contracts are being executed,” said Derrick Sanders, HISD officer of construction services. “The volume of construction is enormous. When we look back, this is the summer we’ll remember.”

Through HISD’s Bond Program, approved by Houston voters in 2012, 40 schools will be rebuilt or renovated, including 29 high schools. The bond program also includes work that will benefit students across the district, including $100 million in technology upgrades, $44.7 million to replace regional fieldhouses and improve athletics facilities, $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms, and $17.3 million for safety and security improvements.

Sanders said he expects to have construction contracts executed for all remaining bond projects, except one, by the end of the year, bringing the number of projects under construction to more than 30.

Juggling so many construction projects isn’t easy, and the recent rainy weather has only added to the challenge, especially as crews are working to finish those schools set to open in August. Although some projects will be cutting it close, they will be ready for students on day one of the coming school year.

“We may have workers going out the back door as students come in the front door,” Sanders said. “But rain or no rain, we’re up against a hard deadline.”

Schools set to open in time for the start of the 2016-2017 school year include Condit and Mark White elementary schools, North Houston Early College and South Early College high schools, Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, and (non-bond) North Forest Early Childhood Center.

Students will also begin the fall semester attending classes in the new classroom wing (Phase 1) at Worthing High School. At Waltrip High School, the new main entryway, band hall, first and second story classrooms, offices and CTE space will open in August. The remaining renovation areas (third story classrooms, second gymnasium, and girls’ locker room) are expected to wrap up in the first quarter 2017.

Construction on Delmar Fieldhouse and Sterling High School are expected to be completed in the fall.