With dozens of projects on tap on dozens of campuses throughout the district, the LISD maintenance staff stays busy keeping facilities in order.
The current fiscal year plan calls for $9.1 million in maintenance costs as part of a 10-year $56 million projection.
“This plan was created to replace building components, equipment and site features to accomplish site maintenance and avoid untimely repairs,” said Director of Facilities Gerry Rapp. “Unfortunately, demands on the plan have been greater over the last few years, and the funding has been reduced, so we’re kind of in a conservative mode.”
Even in a conservative mode, the list of projects for this year include resurfacing the tracks at A.C. Bible Stadium, Vista Ridge High School and Running Brushy Middle School, as well as a new roof at Leander Middle School and roof repairs throughout the district.
Other projects that show up on the list are the replacement of some kitchen equipment, interior and exterior painting at various campuses and rebuilding some natural turf middle school athletic fields.
There was some discussion among LISD board members about the benefits of artificial turf on the fields rather than natural, but the roadblock at this time for the district is up front cost.
“Artificial is about $500,000, versus the $184,000 right now,” said Jimmy Dissler, Senior Executive Director for Facilities and Operations. “So at this time we are recommending to go back in with the natural fields.”
The ultimate goal is to have artificial turf on the fields because of the cost savings over time.
“Long term we need to be looking at artificial turf. It is both a savings cost over the long term of that field, because you do save over the long term when you add in fertilizing, rebuilding, striping the field, mowing and watering the field,” Superintendent Dan Troxell said. “The other advantage of the turf is it does not wear and tear. You generally can get eight to 14 years, depending on how heavily the turf is used.”
He added that it is also a safety issue to help students avoid injury and also would allow more frequent use by the public than natural turf fields. But with a growing number of maintenance issues and recent deferments of projects, the up front cost is not practical at this time.
“In the short term you have to look at is what do we have available (overall for maintenance), and that’s about $9 million,” Troxell said. “This is a less than $200,000 expense versus a half-million dollar expense, because the initial installation is really the difficult part.
“We have immediate needs at those fields to make them playable and safe for kids. We can make those fields safe and playable for the foreseeable future and if we want to look at artificial turf on those fields later we can still do so.”
During the 2016 fiscal year, some of the large projects completed by the maintenance department included parking lot work at Block House Creek Elementary, moisture mitigation at Faubion Elementary, extensive painting at three elementary campuses and repainting and striping of high school band practice lots.
Of the budgeted funds for 2016 projects, about $3.1 million will go back into the general fund due to saved contingency funds, under budget projects and deferments.
Troxell and LISD board members praised the 45-person department for its work to keep district facilities in good order.
“It is a phenomenally well-run organization, but they are understaffed,” he said. “It is a constant issue, but they are a really tightly run organization.”