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Robinson ISD: Construction to modernize facilities and reduce energy use on the way

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 12:57 AM CDT
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ROBINSON, Texas (KWTX) - The Robinson Independent School District is taking advantage of having fewer students in classrooms by making some major improvements to their on-campus learning environment.

Robinson ISD’s Board of Trustees officially kicked-off the district’s move to build more sustainable learning environments for students Thursday night.

“It’s been in the works for a while,” said Board President Laura Crawford. “We’re excited to be able to do this for our schools and for the kids.”

Construction will soon get underway to modernize facilities and reduce energy costs district-wide.

“It’s not a decision that we made lightly and its certainly not one we made in a hurry, we had to make sure this was financially and physically feasible to do,” said Crawford.

Crawford said they desperately need to replace aging infrastructure and now was a good time to do it.

“Of course the fact that we didn’t have school in the Spring, some of the sessions that were out, I think it enabled us to get a better look at the facilities without having the kids here and disrupting their learning environment,” said Crawford. “And now, not maybe having the kids come back, because certainly not all of them will feel like they can return and will be doing remote learning, that’s going to give us probably an opportunity to do some of the repairs not having so may kids because the main priority is not to disturb their learning environment while these repairs are being made.”

Officials say the project will replace aging infrastructure while increasing the energy efficiency of the district’s seven buildings through a variety of upgrades which include enhanced indoor and outdoor lighting with LED technology, energy efficient heating and A/C equipment, a comprehensive building automation system, water conservation measures, efficiency upgrades to all doors and windows and roof repair and replacement.

The $7,000,000 partnership with Schneider Electric came about as a result of the district’s failed bond package which happened before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The age of the facility itself dictates us doing something,” said Crawford referring to the 50-plus year-old Junior High School. “We were trying to get a bond passed so we could build a new school, and when that didn’t work we needed to move forward to do something.”

Representatives from the electric company made a presentation at the beginning of RISD’s school board meeting Thursday night.

“They’ve (Schneider) done a fantastic job of coming through our facility and doing an audit of what improvements need to be made,” said Crawford. “We went ahead and adopted their proposal to use our energy savings to fund great improvements.”

The district hopes to reduce its utility usage by almost 29-percent.

“it’s just going to be terrific to have an overall renovation of the facilities, especially some of our facilities that are more aging, they’ll be able to have kind of a new start, certainly improve the learning environment and improve the morale, I believe,of the kids to have kind of a new look of everything,” said Crawford.

Officials said the money the district is saving on repairs, bills and maintenance would be applied towards financing the project.

“The district will be able to repay the low-interest loan from the energy cost savings realized by the project,” Schneider Electric officials said in a press release. “Robinson ISD will save on energy and maintenance expenses annually over the life of the project, while simultaneously streamlining district operations and enhancing the student experience and classroom learning environment.”

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