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Energy-savings projects at La Joya ISD should be finished in February, contractor says

Work on several major energy-savings projects at the La Joya Independent School District will be completed in February.

La Joya ISD hired Indiana-based Performance Services Inc. to upgrade air conditioning systems, install solar panels and replace high school fields with artificial turf.

Performance Services Inc. provided an update to the La Joya school board on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Screenshot courtesy of La Joya ISD.

“We expect to be fully complete, based on deliveries and installation, by the end of the month,” said project manager Craig Bruska, who briefed the school board on Wednesday. “We’re shooting to be done earlier than that, but we’re fully confident that all installations will be done by the end of February.”

La Joya ISD borrowed nearly $13 million for Phase I of the energy-savings project, according to the 2019-2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report approved by the board in January. La Joya ISD borrowed another $31 million for Phase II and other expenses, including new radio communications equipment.

The energy-savings projects will pay for themselves, according to an analysis conducted by Performance Services. If they don’t, Performance Services agreed to cover the cost.

The Agua Special Utility District and the city of Mission also negotiated energy-savings agreements with Performance Services during the past few years.

Phase II of the La Joya ISD project included nearly $24 million to upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout La Joya ISD; build solar arrays at La Joya High School and Juarez-Lincoln High School; and install artificial turf at high school tracks.

Performance Services completed the solar array at Juarez-Lincoln High School, which cost about $1.7 million, in July. The larger, $3.4 million solar array at La Joya High School was completed in December.

“We are generating the electricity at our targeted rate,” Bruska said. “So we are confident we will meet our guaranteed energy-saving goals for the district.”

Work on the Palmview High School track is complete, Bruska added. Weather and the coronavirus pandemic delayed the Juarez-Lincoln High School project.

“The fields and tracks will be 100% complete and turned over to the district this month,” Bruska said.

Phase II also included about $4.6 million for security gates and tracks at La Joya ISD elementary schools.

Work on the elementary school tracks, which cost nearly $2.9 million, was completed in January, according to documents reviewed by the school board. Installation of security gates and fences, which cost nearly $1.7 million, is scheduled for completion in February.

“We had some delays from our fabricator. These were COVID-related,” Bruska said. “They had to shut the plant down because of illness and then had reduced staffing, so that delayed getting deliveries of some of the components.”

The final part of the project, the gate at Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Elementary School, will be completed by Feb. 12, Bruska said.

During the discussion, Trustee Alex Cantu asked Bruska if the project remained on-budget.

“We are not over budget on the project,” Bruska said.

Bruska said that Performance Services, with approval from the school board, had shifted money from one part of the project to another to cover changes. Performance Services also used a built-in allowance to pay for asbestos and mold removal.

“Right now we anticipate returning to the budget $247,000.29, when it’s all said and done,” Bruska said. “So we are under your allocated funds for the project.”

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