Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Guy Sconzo's name.

Having opened 12 years ago, Wakeland High School is a relatively young campus. No major cracks or damage to the building’s structure can be seen at first glance.

But Frisco ISD’s maintenance team notices the details in the building: small cracks in the tile, chipped paint on the walls, scratches on beaten-up doors, stains on the carpet. Maintenance employees also see what is happening behind the walls out of view from students and teachers, such as heating and cooling systems and electrical components.

Wakeland HS is in good shape for now, said Todd Fouche, deputy superintendent of business and operations; but like any FISD school, it eventually will need regular repairs to ensure the safety of the campus and to prevent any disruption in classroom instruction.

Even as FISD grows, the district has to keep up its aging campuses. Within the next 10 years, 20 of the district’s schools will be 25 years old or older.

An increasing number of aging campuses prompted the district’s Facilities and Programs Evaluation Committee to recommend facility maintenance projects as part of a proposed $691 million bond package, which is up for election Nov. 6. Some of these projects include updating lighting and furniture and resurfacing playgrounds.

The proposed bond’s second-largest line item is $110 million for preventive maintenance and repairs of facilities. Another $29 million is slated for updating campuses that are 25 years old. Committee co-Chairman Sean Heatley said community members he spoke with had “sticker shock” when they saw the cost of maintenance projects.

“The general framework is that everything is new in Frisco,” Heatley said. “When you start seeing maintenance dollars, you start asking the question, ‘Why are there so many dollars? Is Frisco really getting that old?’ When you start looking at the age of the individual [facilities], all 72 didn’t spit out on the same week, the same day, the same year.”

Committee co-Chairwoman Debbie Pasha said maintenance projects ensure educational equity across the district.

“We’ve got aging facilities, and in order for students that are in these older facilities to have an equal educational experience, the maintenance aspect has got to happen,” she said.

More than paint

Director of Maintenance Blake Vaughn said updating facilities is more than just cosmetic work—such as painting walls, recarpeting classrooms and fixing broken tiles—though that is a big part of the job.

“Carpet and paint [are] certainly a part of what we’re doing as part of this bond program, but it’s not the big money; the big money is in mechanical,” Vaughn said.

Some components of heating and cooling systems—if they need to be replaced—could cost more than $100,000 each, Vaughn said.

Each building in the district is on a maintenance schedule. Different projects—such as paint, carpet and mechanical systems—need to be replaced or repaired at different rates.

But just because something is on the schedule does not mean it needs to be repaired, Vaughn said. Some projects can be pushed back depending on the degree of wear-and-tear, and other projects need to be moved up because damage occurred quicker than expected, he said.

The maintenance team also assesses the state of a building before it is scheduled for repairs or updates to see whether a scheduled project needs to be done in its entirety. For instance, if a building is scheduled for painting, crews may paint the main corridors but skip administration offices if those areas do not need new paint yet, Vaughn said.

The goal is to keep up with regular maintenance so that buildings do not get to a state of deterioration, Fouche said.

“We don’t really let our buildings get looking bad,” he said. “… We’re very aware that we built so many buildings, and we don’t want the experience at a brand new building to be shockingly different than the experience at a building half a mile away.”

If maintenance issues go unresolved, it could interrupt instructional time, Vaughn said. Instead, he said the maintenance team would rather fix small issues continually to avoid major repairs down the road.

Vaughn said older facilities require more maintenance than newer buildings, and repair projects often cost more if manufacturers no longer make the needed mechanical parts.

“We’re up and down ladders more on those older buildings, and they require more labor,” he said.

Not slowing down

One of the biggest challenges of fast-growth school districts is balancing growing pains with aging facilities, said Guy Sconzo, Fast Growth School Coalition executive director. FISD is a member of the coalition, which advocates for the fastest-growing school districts in Texas.

Sconzo said the pace at which a school district grows is dependent on how long it takes a city to build out. This year, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Frisco as the No. 1 fastest-growing city in the nation. The city projects reaching a build-out population sometime between 2030 and 2035.

For districts like FISD that are still growing, Sconzo said they often manage paying for new buildings and maintaining older buildings by holding a bond election every two to three years.

“If you go longer than that, it becomes a ‘pay me now or pay me later’ scenario,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you delay and pay later, it’s much more expensive and becomes prohibitive. So every two to three years, you’re likely going to need to be on the ballot both for keeping pace with growth as best you can and for refurbishing and renovating and updating existing facilities.”

Because FISD’s last bond election was in 2014, the district has gone beyond the norm of other fast-growth districts, Sconzo said.

“I think that speaks to [the district’s] good planning, and they’re trying to be as frugal and sensitive to taxpayers as possible,” he said.

Should voters turn down the bond proposition Nov. 6, Vaughn said the district would have to push some maintenance projects back and the cost of some of those projects may increase.

“The voters will decide, and we’ll play the hand that we’re dealt,” he said.