While the coronavirus crisis shuttered classrooms and disrupted learning for the spring semester, a handful of unexpected benefits are beginning to surface for area school districts, among them being more time to complete a lengthy list of facility improvement projects.
“We’ve had the gift of time to accomplish more of our summer list,” said Terry Worcester, Round Rock ISD's chief operating officer, in an April 30 presentation to the board of trustees.
Over 75 projects from RRISD’s November 2018 bond are beginning the construction phase, Worcester said. An additional 35 bond projects remain the planning phase at this time, he said.
Voters approved the $508 million RRISD bond in November 2018. Projects include constructing elementary school No. 35, designing High School No. 6, replacing aging technology, resurfacing tracks and turf fields, installing new playground equipment and more.
Worcester said as the decision was made to extend school closures beyond spring break, his team decided to start working on the projects they could.
“We just continued working, so much so that we accelerated our work, knowing there was a possibility that students would not be coming back to facilities this spring,” Worcester said.
In addition to the bond-funded projects, crews have been able to start work on nine facility maintenance projects several weeks earlier than originally planned, he said.
One of the aims of the 2018 bond is to address districtwide capacity. Throughout this spring and summer, 37 portable buildings are being removed from various campuses, Worcester said. Meanwhile, six portables are being added, Worcester said.
The grounds team continues to mow and maintain landscaping at district campuses, he said. Ongoing, preventative maintenance also continues at this time as well as “essential, districtwide facilities sanitation” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said.
“Our custodial team is a team of real heroes,” Worcester said. “They’ve been sanitizing buildings in that entire period from spring break until now.”
With school campuses closed, Round Rock ISD starts summer facility upgrades early
Double File Trail Elementary School is one of 52 Round Rock ISD schools than have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)