Vandegrift High School construction slowed by city of Austin inspection delays

While upgrades remain on schedule at Steiner Ranch Elementary School, Vandegrift High School’s more extensive upgrades and additions may not be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year. (Community Impact staff)
While upgrades remain on schedule at Steiner Ranch Elementary School, Vandegrift High School’s more extensive upgrades and additions may not be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year. (Community Impact staff)

While upgrades remain on schedule at Steiner Ranch Elementary School, Vandegrift High School’s more extensive upgrades and additions may not be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year. (Community Impact staff)

Note: This story has been updated with a comment from a city of Austin spokesperson.

While upgrades remain on schedule at Steiner Ranch Elementary School, Vandegrift High School’s more extensive upgrades and additions may not be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year.

Although LISD officials said there is no guarantee that LISD campuses will even be open in August, construction, funded mostly from the 2017 school bond approved by voters, continues across the 198-square-mile district.

Jimmy Disler, LISD’s chief facilities and operations officer, told trustees May 14 that coronavirus concerns have slowed VHS construction inspections by the city of Austin, potentially putting the August completion dates of some VHS projects in jeopardy.

“[COVID-19] has the biggest impact right now on city of Austin projects,” Disler said. “The guidelines they have [are stricter than other cities], ... but also, getting inspections from the city is a lot slower. Instead of [the] next day, as they’re supposed to be, it could be a week and a half to two weeks to get an inspection from them. We’re definitely feeling the impact with that.”


However, city of Austin spokesperson Robbie G. Searcy said in a May 19 email that there have been no inspections delays at Vandegrift High School due to coronavirus.

"Inspections for this project by the City of Austin Development Services Department (DSD) have remained on schedule throughout modified operations associated with COVID-19," Searcy said in the email. "In fact, more than 90 percent of ongoing projects are receiving DSD-required inspections within 24-48 hours of customers submitting their requests. Some inspections required by other departments can take a bit longer due to the nature of the work, but we are not aware of any delays associated with COVID-19."

While the new agricultural center should be completed on time, Vandegrift’s classroom additions and incubator renovation are taking longer than projected, he said.

“Contractors were very pleased they did get started in May for all these summer projects,” Disler said. “They anticipate some slowdowns in their construction process. Thankfully, they did get started early, and that’ll help try to ensure we are completed by August and the first day of school.”

The guaranteed maximum prices are $18,841,634 for VHS and $2,974,029 for the agricultural center, according to LISD documents.
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


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