Nearly two years after Conroe ISD voters approved a $653.57 million bond referendum for projects around the district, several facilities were completed and few delays were reported despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic for more than an entire academic year.

“At this time, bond projects are progressing on their originally planned schedules,” CISD Director of Communications Sarah Blakelock said July 26. “Currently, each bond project has met its budget target. The only exceptions are where Conroe ISD increased the overall scope of work.”

The Woodlands-area schools

A total of $315.82 million of the bond projects is directed at new campus buildings or additions to existing structures. Another $239.24 million is aimed at renovations with the remainder of bond funds going toward safety and security, support services and land. Among the projects underway are several additions to schools serving The Woodlands, College Park, Grand Oaks and Oak Ridge high schools’ feeder zones.

The $17.5 million addition to York Junior High School is $2 million over budget due to some increases in the scope of the addition, according to Easy Foster, director of planning and construction for CISD. Foster outlined the progress on capital improvement projects at the July 20 school board meeting.

The addition will increase the school’s overall capacity. As of the 2020-21 school year, York Junior High School, which feeds into Grand Oaks High School, had an enrollment of 1,876. District materials state an addition would increase the capacity to 2,000 students.

“It is very near completion,” Foster said. Classroom space was added on the academic end of the building, and the fine arts and athletics sections were rebuilt from late May through the summer, he said.

Another project in the Grand Oaks feeder zone is an elementary school with a May 2023 completion date projected. The project is estimated at $39.42 million.

Two projects are slated for Oak Ridge High School, including a $45 million systems overhaul, including air conditioning systems. Work is also planned for a career and technical education building at Oak Ridge High School that will also be completed in May 2023 at a cost of $10.52 million. Oak Ridge High School is on schedule with the 30-month project, Foster said.

In The Woodlands, additions to College Park High School were wrapping up in July and came in $1 million under budget at $8.86 million.

Foster said the outside was essentially finished as of late July; the classrooms were coming together; and furniture was being delivered, so it would be ready for students in the next month.

Wilkerson Intermediate School will see a physical education space addition, and while the $6 million project is on schedule, the timing of the delivery of the metal building materials is being watched, he said.

“That has us a little bit nervous; it’s coming a little later in the fall than we would like,” he said, adding the project will be completed before students return from winter break in January.

Other facilities

Among other projects throughout the district funded by the 2019 school bond program, a new $34 million elementary school opened for the first day of the 2021-22 school year in the Caney Creek feeder zone.

In addition to bond projects, work on the teacher training facility located near Woodforest Bank Stadium has proceeded, and masonry work was about to begin in late July, Foster said.

The training center was originally proposed as part of a bond program rejected by voters in May 2019. It was one of several projects moved out of the bond and into separate capital expenditures that fall, Foster said.

Despite increases in material prices in the past year, Foster said the projects have largely stayed on budget, and bidding will not resume until later in the year, when price surges in building material costs might ease.

“Delays have been our biggest issues,” he said. “We’ve been relatively lucky; we finished even. ... We anticipate staying on that trend; we’re watching steel in particular; that’s been kind of wild. We believe ... that we’re going to see some reduction in those prices over the next year.”