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District relies on temporary fixes

By Jimmy Alford | Published Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Paradise ISD has a long to-do list. Major dollar signs are attached to each item, and some of them can’t wait long.

It has been two weeks since PISD’s $3.25 million bond proposal and 8-cent tax increase failed in the Nov. 5 election. The school board is grappling with costly problems and the added problem of no new revenue to pay for them.

The most pressing so far is the district’s ailing wastewater treatment facility. Superintendent Monte Chapman said major upgrades are needed by December 2016. It seems problems are arising sooner rather than later.

During the school board’s regular meeting Monday night, engineer Glenn Breisch with Wasterline Engineering said massive wastewater flow spikes are overrunning the system and flushing chemicals as well as bacteria cultures into the outflow.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) tests wastewater facilities to make sure they are in compliance with regulations. Paradise’s recent flow issues have put the district out of compliance and in danger of incurring hefty fines and penalties.

This means long before the system can be upgraded or replaced, the district has to put in a stopgap measure to at least temporarily fix the wastewater facility’s issues.

“[The wastewater treatment facility] is getting into a state of disrepair,” Breisch said.

To get the district back into compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, at least temporarily, Breisch has suggested adding an equalization basin.

What the basin would do is allow wastewater to flow in at inconsistent volumes and flow out at a constant rate that the facility can treat efficiently.

Breisch said this tank could be reused as part of the new upgraded system planned for construction in the near future. He said this would keep the district from throwing money down the drain.

This solution isn’t cheap, and it could take a year to implement after planning, bidding and construction. Breisch said the addition could cost around $100,000.

Another option is to bring in a frack tank that could cost more than $14,000 over the course of a year but would not be PISD property and not be reusable in the future facility construction.

The board took action to start the planning process that leads to looking for bids.

Eventually replacing the entire facility could cost about $1 million.

ROOF REPAIR

Another immediate problem is directly over the heads of Paradise Intermediate School students – the school’s leaky roof.

Major repairs or replacement are needed to stop leaks and keep students’ health safe.

Replacing the 13,000 square-foot roof could cost between $49,000 and $75,000. Installing a sloped metal roof would cost about $100,000, Chapman told the board.

He brought insurance adjusters to inspect the roof for possible damage that could have stemmed from a previous hailstorm. If the roof had been damaged by hail, some of the costs associated with repair could be offset with insurance money.

Chapman said adjusters have so far not discovered any hail damage.

He said the district would have the leaks temporarily patched, while the board goes through the budgeting process to find a long-term solution.

OTHER NEWS

In dealing with the rest of its agenda Monday, the board also:

  • approved new bonuses of $500 for all full-time staff except the Superintendent, and $250 for all part-time staff.
  • noted that PISD campuses will be closed Nov. 25 to Nov. 29. On Dec. 20, there will be an early release for students, and school will be closed Dec. 23 to Jan. 6, 2014.
  • accepted as part of a shared service agreement $78,014 reimbursement through School Health and Related Services for services covered by Medicaid rendered Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011.

The money will go directly into the district’s fund balance. Chapman said the district had been expecting some reimbursement but much less than $78,000.

SHARS is a Medicaid financing program and is a joint program of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). It allows school districts to get Medicaid reimbursement for certain health-related services provided to students in special education.

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