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Brownsville ISD beams lights

September 2, 2018

The project to install LED lighting and upgrade HVAC systems at the Brownsville Independent School District schools deemed most in need is moving forward, the district’s facilities committee learned at a meeting this past week.

The project’s first phase of replacing or retrofitting existing lighting with more-efficient LED lamps at 13 schools and the Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center is underway and should be mostly completed by December, representatives of the two companies doing the work told the committee at the meeting.

The second phase is upgrading the rooftop and HVAC control units at the schools. Together the first two phases will cost about $15 million to complete, discussion at the meeting indicated.

Schneider Electric has the contract for Porter Early College High School, Besteiro, Garcia and Lucio middle schools, Aiken, Southmost and Paredes elementary schools and the aquatic center. A company representative said lighting work at Porter is underway, first on the exterior and then on the gymnasium and interior. The other schools will follow. The main holdup is getting product for the project, he said.

E3 is the contractor for Lopez and Pace early college high schools, BLA High School (the old Cummings Middle School campus), Oliveira and Stillman middle schools and Benavides Elementary School.

E3 president Klip Weaver said crews have begun retrofitting the lighting at Lopez. Pace, Benavides and BLA will follow, with completion expected before Christmas. Oliveira and Stillman will follow, with completion dates in late December or January.

The project’s third phase is upgrading chiller units at the schools. Contracts for that work have not been awarded, Fernando Villarreal, project and facilities manager, said.

In 2015, BISD raised its tax rate by 11 1/4 cents per $100 of taxable value. The increase generates about $24 million in additional annual revenue. The district is leveraging the funds to pay for needed capital improvement projects like the lighting and air conditioning work now under way

BISD is also building a new gymnasium at Hanna Early College High School and is exploring financial options to build a district performing arts center.

At Wednesday’s meeting the committee discussed but took no action on the possibility of building the performing arts center as a public-private partnership, P3 for short.

If such a project ever comes to fruition it would be the first P3 project ever built in Texas involving a public school district, officials said.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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