The summer break traditionally serves as a time for Eanes ISD to tackle campus projects and renovations, and this year is no exception, according to EISD Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Trimble.
“We have a lot going on this summer,” Trimble told trustees during a June 8 board meeting.
Among the scheduled projects are several safety upgrades, primarily at Hill Country Middle School and West Ridge Middle School, which will see fire alarm replacements and upgrades to the public address system. Other safety projects include work on an emergency notification system and the installation of perimeter fencing at multiple campuses.
All summer projects are funded through the district’s $80 million 2019 bond program, for which $8 million was dedicated to safety and security projects.
EISD will also continue work on a $5 million districtwide initiative to retrofit buildings with motion-sensor LED lights. Trimble said these upgrades will present cost savings through a rebate provided by EISD’s utility provider.
Technology upgrades are a large district initiative this summer, according to Trimble. Classroom Smart Boards, which are interactive whiteboards, will be replaced by mounted flat-panel computers.
Among the most highly anticipated projects are the district's three instructional and extracurricular facility projects.
Students will soon have access to a new $10.3 million aquatic center, a $2.3 million wrestling facility and a newly renovated $2.91 million robotics center.
Trimble said construction crews are making great progress on the robotics center, which should be completed by the end of July. While work on the wrestling project was slightly offset by the heavy rainfall experienced in March, Trimble said EISD has a goal to finish that space by the first day of the 2021-22 school year. Barring any changes, the aquatics facility will become available for students by the end of December.
Trimble also spoke to significant increases in construction costs both nationally and in the Austin area. Luckily, he said EISD’s current projects will not be impacted by this trend.
“The construction industry, both residential and nonresidential, has been really impacted by the pandemic but also the freeze that Texas had completely shut down the plants,” Trimble said, citing information from the Associated General Contractors of America.
The district first broke ground on its extracurricular projects in September, and Trimble said construction crews have already obtained the necessary materials such as steel, which has seen a 63% increase in cost since March 2020.
Superintendent Tom Leonard said EISD noticed these cost increases in Austin prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore pushed to begin their bond projects as soon as possible.