It is a busy time to be a Tiger.
Members of the Houston board of education Tuesday heard updates on its $6.5 million new gymnasium project, $420,000 in federal aid coming to the district due to the coronavirus and improvements that will result in some new roofs and heating/cooling units across campus due to a March hail storm.
Along with the capital programs, administrators continue to maneuver education through a global pandemic.
The biggest of the projects — a new 1,500 seat gymnasium — is making progress amid nearly daily showers that resulted in pumping water from the site that is west of the Hiett Gymnasium. Gary Gentry of Gentry Construction Co. of Houston, the construction manager, said most of the north side of the foundation was complete. He said the firm was hoping that finalization of structural engineering matters would soon be completed.
Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent, reported that the district’s share of federal dollars from the federal CARES Act would total about $420,000. There are specific guidelines on how the funds can be spent. Among the uses could be internet hotspots for students, connectivity improvements, purchase of Chromebooks, supplies to disinfect and salary costs related to managing the crisis. About 20 percent of the district’s allocation is part of an application process.
The district also has begun the process of bidding for roof replacements and heating and cooling repairs or replacements as a result of more than $1.8 million in damage from a March 27 hail storm. The school also received a settlement for damaged buses and school vehicles. Those proceeds were used to pay off a bus lease totaling $45,812. The move saved taxpayers about $1,200. Roofing projects will be released for bidding soon. A mandatory contractor pre-bid meeting is June 16. Bids are due June 30.
Due to the urgency of getting heating and cooling units fixed or replaced before summer school in July, the school’s insurance firm will probably move forward to allow Wood Mechanical to begin work soon. The company has over the years managed the district’s HVAC system.
A recently purchased house that will be converted to parking will be demolished under a contract awarded to Jared Smith Hauling Excavating. The structure is west of JC’s Auto Repair. The proximity of the property will allow parking for school and downtown functions.
In other matters, members:
—Heard that graduation is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Tiger Stadium. In case of inclement weather, it will be held at 10 a.m. that day. A third possibility is 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7. Additional guidance on social distancing and other requirements will be released soon. A baccalaureate service will not be held. Still a possibility is prom and senior trip activities.
—Learned that some form of summer school — both virtual and seated — is planned. Administrators are working through guidance from health experts and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a plan. The state last week also announced it would consider waivers to start the school year earlier, if desired. A new law enacted before the arrival of coronavirus required districts to postpone start dates to help the state’s tourism business.
—Heard that the district is exploring acquiring a large capacity diesel fuel tank to save on man hour times and work is underway to make improvements in each building before the start of summer school.
The next meeting is 6 p.m. June 9 in the high school media center.