Harlingen district making upgrades to schools

HARLINGEN — The AC’s out, and it will be until May.

But that’s OK. Long and Wilson elementary schools won’t need the air conditioning for awhile, which is why the school district is replacing several units, said Oscar Tapia, assistant superintendent for district operations.

“They’re like eight to 20 years old and it’s just time to replace them,” Tapia said. “They were not cooling and they were having a lot of maintenance issues, a lot of breakdowns.”

Plans were in place years ago to finally replace the units, and with the Tax Ratification Election funds now available, that work can be done.

Similar work is being conducted at Ben Milam Elementary.

“It’s just some exhaust fans we’re upgrading to increase the air flow to help dry out some of the restrooms,” Tapia said. “Increasing the air flow will just help better ventilate those restrooms to keep them drier and for odor control.”

That project has been awarded to Central Air and Heating Services for $586,365 in TRE funds. That price tag includes a $25,000 contingency allowance.

Tapia explained the contingency allowance is set aside for any small unexpected costs.

“Sometimes when we remove units and put them back, there are some things that just don’t fit because the units are 20 years old,” he said. “Maybe the new unit won’t fit. We have to do either a curb adaptor and make some changes or the electrical wiring may have to be upgraded. Sometimes we don’t know until we’ve removed something.”

If those changes aren’t in the contract, the district must get change orders approved by the board. However, with the contingency allowance, that extra work can be performed without having to go before the board again.

“It’s a petty cash fund we can administratively approve,” he said.

If the district doesn’t’ use the contingency allowance, it’s credited back to the district.

The board also approved funding for fencing around a section of the Vernon Middle School campus. Currently, demolition works is being performed on the site.

The district wants to ensure that once the work is completed and the debris cleared, that people don’t feel they have free access to the property.

“We don’t’ want people getting in there and parking there and thinking it’s just access to anyone, so we’re going to put a fence around it,” Tapia said.

And it’s not just going to be any fence.

“It’s going to be a fence that ties into and matches the fencing they have at Boggus Stadium,” Tapia said.

“Over at Boggus Stadium you have those nice fences with the brick columns, and right where it ends you have the Vernon football field.”

The old chain-link fence currently in place will be removed and in its place will be the custom-made fence installed by Hurricane Fence Company for $125,774, again paid for with TRE funds.

Work on that project is expected to begin after Christmas and completed in February.

The HVAC upgrades are also expected to begin after Christmas and be completed by May.


WHAT: HVAC upgrades on Long, Wilson and Milam elementary schools

WHEN: Work will begin after Christmas and be completed by May

COST: $536,365 in TRE (Tax Ratification Election) funds

Cost includes $25,000 contingency fund for unexpected costs

WHAT: Construction of new fencing at Vernon Middle School

WHEN: Work will begin after Christmas and be completed in February

COST: $125,774 in TRE funds