Construction on fast track for new school year

HARLINGEN — Dishman Elementary got it the worst, but it’s in pretty good shape now.

“They had 8 to 10 inches of water inside the entire school, so we had to remove the first four feet of sheetrock in all the walls with the insulation,” said Oscar Tapia, assistant superintendent for district operations for the Harlingen school district.

The heavy rains in June damaged many homes and facilities with flood waters. Those waters hit Dishman as well as Wilson and Vernon elementary schools. Fortunately, the Harlingen school district had time to repair the damage in time for the 2019 – 2020 school year.

School officials wasted no time getting started.

“There might be a few rooms here and there that might need a little extra work,” Tapia said. “For the most part, it’ll be 95 percent done. Overall, Dishman alone is probably about $300,000. We took the money out of the general fund.”

It’s a good thing the district went right to work, because damage was extensive.

“Several of the rooms, we had to take out the vinyl tile that was popping up loose,” Tapia said. “A lot of the cabinetry work that sat on the floor that was made out of wood, particle wood. That was all taken out.”

So were the carpets in the library and the music room. They were a total loss.

Workers also removed the floor tile in the mini-gym.

“We hired a contractor, Noble Texas Builders, because it was way too much for our people to handle,” Tapia said.

Now, workers are in the process of building everything back so the school will be ready for the kids on Monday.

“We’ve already put back the insulation in the walls, the sheetrock, the flooring, all that’s been put back,” Tapia said. “What we’re doing now is putting back all the furniture in the rooms and setting that up for the first day of school.”

And while the district was busy getting Dishman fixed up, it also had to attend to Wilson.

“Wilson Elementary, we also had a classroom wing, about eight to 10 classrooms, that were affected, and the multi-purpose building,” Tapia said. “It was the same thing there. We had to tear out the sheetrock, insulation in the walls, the flooring, some wood cabinetry work, and we put it all back.”

That school’s also in a dead heat to finish before the starting line on Monday.

“Right now we’re just finishing up the floor tile so we can get all the furniture back in the rooms,” Tapia said. “I think right now we’re a little over $100,000 on that one from the general fund.”

Vernon Middle School had some damage as well.

“About seven to eight classrooms, they had plywood subfloors and the water got all the way into the plywood, so the plywood was buckling up,” Tapia said. “So we had to tear out the plywood, all the flooring on it. So there’s the new plywood floor. We’ve got the sheetrock up and now they’re finishing up the floor tile.”

He said five of the damaged classrooms should be ready by Monday, but two or three others may need a few more days for their makeover. That work is also being done by Noble Construction for $200,000.