DEPARTMENTS TAX OFFICE
2018 Bond Proposal Includes Repair and Replacement Work To Bring Aging Facilities Up to Date
By Beth Dombrowa
In 2016, Ross S. Sterling students, staff and alumni celebrated the school’s 50th anniversary. The campus’ mechanical system was also a guest at the party, as parts of it were installed when the campus was originally constructed.
The 2018 bond proposal includes large-scale mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) projects, as well as roofing projects, that have been identified as priority needs within the district due to aging facilities and end of life expectancy of components. While not as visible as new schools or high-tech STEM labs, MEP projects are essential to student learning as they keep buildings cool or warm, plumbing working correctly and up to code, and maximize lighting in classrooms. As every homeowner knows, at some point a major home system or component will need to be overhauled or replaced – usually at the most inconvenient time -- and the same is true for facilities within the district. Despite year-round, round-the-clock maintenance, at some point every system fails and/or requires major parts to be replaced to work efficiently.
A major concern, and one of the largest MEP projects in the 2018 bond proposal, is the mechanical system at Ross S. Sterling High School. While several aspects of the system have been repaired many times over the years, parts of it are five decades old. Due to its age, the system is expensive, inefficient and difficult to regulate. Its inefficiency leads to excess humidity in the building, which can have a domino effect on other aspects of the campus. The district must replace the floor of the Winnie Brown gym, for example, due in part to high humidity that caused it to buckle.
In addition, the mechanical system at Sterling is so old it can’t be operated remotely, nor can it zone parts of the campus that require specific cooling parameters. The end result of the antiquated system is higher operating cost to the district, as well as additional personnel cost since extra maintenance staff must remain onsite for evening and weekend events.
Robert E. Lee High School had a similar mechanical system until voters passed the 2013 bond, which included a new mechanical system for the district’s oldest high school. Since then, the district has saved thousands of dollars annually by operating a much newer, more efficient system that allows for electronic access and control. The district is able to correctly zone areas of the campus for maximum efficiency; for example, gyms and libraries typically need to stay online longer and require more air conditioning than smaller areas of the campus.
Other campuses, including DeZavala, Harlem and Highlands Elementary are also operating with their original HVAC systems which were installed in 1995. After 23 years, major components of those systems need to be replaced, which will result in higher efficiency, lower costs and more steady, comfortable temperatures in those schools for students and staff.
Another example of the “unseen” projects included in the 2018 bond proposal are roofs. Baytown and Gentry Junior Schools, Austin Elementary, Hopper Primary, Sterling High School, and the GCCISD Service Center are all in need of complete or major roof replacements. Typically, roofs are warrantied for 20 years, although with good maintenance, they can last another 5 to 10 years. The roofs at these campuses are all about 30 years old or more and have experienced significant issues, which can result in major leaks or water intrusion, deterioration of adjacent building components, increased susceptibility to adverse weather, increase in humidity inside buildings and constant, costly maintenance.
While modernized HVAC systems and roof replacements contribute to energy efficiency, the bond proposal also includes additional projects that are sound environmental practice, and, as an added bonus, provide cost savings to the district. More than 20 years ago, organizations with large-scale operations made the switch from knob-turn and non-metered lever-turn faucets in restrooms, to metered faucets that control water output and, therefore, minimize utility costs while also conserving water. Replacing 20 older faucets with metered faucets can save 1,020 gallons of water per day or 3,315,000 gallons over the faucets’ lifetime. Over the years, GCCISD has replaced faucets in many campuses, but still needs to replace faucets in campuses where there is high water consumption. The old-style knob-turn faucets are not ADA compliant, and the lever-turn faucets are extremely wasteful in regard to water consumption.
For a comprehensive overview of MEP projects in the 2018 bond proposal, as well as all other projects, visit gccisd.net. Early voting begins April 23 and Election Day is May 5.
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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