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MFISD buys new maintenance trucks, playground shade 

Marble Falls Elementary School playground

The current shade on this Marble Falls Elementary School playground will be replaced. It was significantly damaged by winds last year. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

A Marble Falls Elementary School playground will be shaded again and the district’s maintenance department will get two new vehicles after school trustees allocated about $145,000 for the purchases during a regular board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19. The shade will cost just under $29,000; the trucks about $118,000 for both. The money will come from 2018 bond funds. 

“Shade structures at our schools provide sun protection for the children and the playground equipment,” Assistant Superintendent of Administration Stan Whittle told “It also creates cooler temperatures under shaded areas, which allows students to play outside, even during warmer temperatures.”

The playground has a shade, but it was significantly damaged during the 2022-23 school year.

“(The canopy) has ripped,” Whittle told the board. “Last year, during one of the wind storms, the structure welds snapped. Potentially what happened is that the canopy over time loosened. It got caught and it was almost a parachute type of effect that snapped those structure components.”

The maintenance staff quickly fixed the structure upon assessing the damage.

“Our maintenance staff has done a great job and temporarily welded that back, so it is safe for our students, but it is still sagging,” Whittle said.

The structure was purchased in 2009 and installed in 2010.

“Typically, we expect to get 15 years out of those shade structures and canopies with routine maintenance,” Whittle said. “We’re just afraid that it’s just a matter of time (before) we get some weather and that’s potential to crack again.”

Bids for the replacement project ranged from roughly $28,000 to $37,000. Buda-based playground equipment contractor TF Harper & Associates was lowest bidder and was selected.  

District officials accelerated the approval process to speed up the timeline for removal and replacement.

“We do not have a timeline from the vendor, but we are working closely with them to get it scheduled,” Whittle said. “We will have it completed at their soonest availability, likely over a student holiday or a weekend.”

The board also voted to buy two 2022 Ford F-250 trucks from Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Carrollton on first read. Normally, trustees would have to come back for a second vote to secure the money, but they decided to approve the expenditure a month early.

“It’s impossible to find vehicles right now, so if you’ve got a place that has two that they’re willing to sell you right now, I’d say, ‘Let’s get that done.’” Trustee Gary Boshears said.

The two trucks are replacing a 2005 model with 168,000 miles and a 2004 service body truck with over 150,000 miles. The 2004 vehicle also needs a new transmission.

“These trucks are getting up in age,” Whittle said. “They’re almost 20 years old and reaching the end of their life cycles.”

Trustee Alex Payson asked Superintendent Dr. Jeff Gasaway to report on the status of the district’s bond funds as a whole.

“We’re starting to run down on all funds,” Gasaway said. “We’re hoping by the end of the 2023-24 school year that all of the funds that we had from the bond will be used at that point in time.”