Repairs at PHS Take Priority

In News by Reporter News

Moving forward with needed renovations at Pearland High, Lawhon and Carleston, the Pearland school board is also turning its attention to a possible bond election in the future.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do right away,” Pearland Superintendent John Kelly said regarding the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and cabling problems at the 24-year-old Pearland High campus.

How and when the repairs will be made has yet to be determined.

“It’s a very thorny project,” Kelly told the board. “We haven’t figured out how we are going to do that in the midst of 3,000 kids.”

A recent PBK architect study identified a long list of needed facility repairs, including $18 to $20 million in estimated repairs at Pearland High. The board on Oct. 14 approved moving forward with contracting with PBK with the mechanical, electrical and plumbing repairs for 6 percent of final construction costs. The next step for the district is to approve a construction manager at risk for the project.

“We haven’t really gotten into the real depth of the how-to,” Trustee Lance Botkin said.
Administrators have said they don’t want to move any students off campus, and want the least amount of disruption to classes.

The board in July authorized the sale of nearly $35 million in unsold bonds to address its more urgent facility needs. The board will then likely dip into its fund balance to the tune of $7 million to fund renovations to Lawhon and Carleston elementaries. The board on Oct. 14 looked at initial renderings of proposed renovations to those campuses at about $10 million each.

Suggestions for Lawhon, which is “bursting at the seams” in terms of enrollment, according to Kelly, included re-doing the parent drop-off and pick-up points and prevent traffic congestion, adding six to eight classrooms and expanding the cafeteria.

Carleston, too, has logistics issues with parent drop-off and pick ups. Renovations would create a new front entry and pick-up/drop-off with re-purposed spaces and about 10 classrooms added.

The board at that meeting agreed to proceed with determining exactly which renovations could be done for $10 million per campus – but not without much discussion and reservations. The district will set up a meeting with the architect and also seek a construction manager at risk as its next step.

Trustee Andrew Solomon questioned approving repairs now with the possibility of another bond election and additional, but unknown, renovations to campuses in the future.

“Something about it doesn’t seem right to me, but I want to know, ‘What’s the whole thing?’” Solomon said. “It makes me uneasy to do it sort of piecemeal.”

A realistic date for a bond election is May, Kelly said, and the repairs at Pearland High are pressing.
Trustee Rusty DeBorde agreed.

“I would like to wait and see all this in one picture,” he said, “but quite honestly, I really believe in my heart it’s going to cost us more money if we wait that long.”

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