Harlandale OKs 2014-15 construction plan

Harlandale ISD trustees have approved a timeline for when they expect completion of a handful of new projects totaling $17 million, including an early college high school.

The board voted last week to approve a 16-month schedule to complete a new building for the early college program, along with two health and science academies at both of the district’s high schools and a facility for vocational training in automotive technology.

Trustees spoke of funding options that include a possible bond election next year.

The timeline will kick in when a contract is finalized to start construction, which the district’s lawyer, Winnie Dominguez, said should be completed later
this month or in early January. That would mean the four facilities — dubbed the “fall projects” — likely would be done about April 2015.

Several trustees said the community might have the impression that the early college high school program will be delayed because its building will open a year later than officials previously announced.

But Superintendent Rey Madrigal said the program will start on time, kicking off in August with about 125 students who will spend one year in a temporary location.

The early college high school, a two-story structure to be located next to Memorial Stadium, eventually will house up to 500 students. It will cost about $12 million to build.

Construction of the health and science academies will total $4.5 million and the auto tech facility will cost about $813,220. All should fall within the 16-month timeline for completion, Jasmine Engineering CEO Jasmine Azima told trustees.

The board has voted consistently to hire the firm to manage the district’s nonstop stream of construction projects since wrapping up its 2009 bond.

Voters in Harlandale have supported three school bonds in the past decade, and some district officials have indicated in recent years that another bond would be needed to fix up some older campuses, among other upgrades.

Trustees said at the Tuesday meeting that a bond proposal could be taken to voters next year that could also cover the fall projects’ costs.

Trustee Anthony Alcoser said Harlandale has to come up with alternative funding in case the bond election fails. For the time being, district officials said they have earmarked about $9.5 million in the district’s reserve fund to get the projects going.