How to leverage ‘multiple pots of money’ to secure schools

Los Lunas Schools partnering with Gordian to use stimulus funds to control building access and block COVID
By: | May 4, 2021
Valencia High School in New Mexico's Los Lunas Schools, where a range of safety and security upgrades are underway.Valencia High School in New Mexico's Los Lunas Schools, where a range of safety and security upgrades are underway.
Superintendent Arsenio Romero

Superintendent Arsenio Romero

Superintendent Arsenio Romero says he’s learned more about air filtration and HVAC technology in the last year than he ever thought possible.

Still, he doesn’t feel totally qualified to manage, on his own, the extensive safety and security projects now underway in Los Lunas Schools, near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Romero is building security vestibules, installing outdoor fencing and making COVID safety upgrades, among other projects, through a partnership with the national construction management firm, Gordian.

“As we roll into the spring semester, we’re thinking about next year and what happens over summer, and a lot of that revolves around safety and security,” Romero said during a District Administration webinar, “Summer Construction & Beyond: Prioritizing COVID-19 Safety and Stimulus Funding.”

Gordian connects schools with local contractors through a process called “job-order contracting,” which allows multiple projects to be completed through a single, competitively awarded contract.

Job-order contracts can accelerate projects by several weeks and save districts money because the company handles much of the behind-the-scenes tasks, said Jenny Ramirez, a Gordian senior account manager based in New Mexico.

Gordian’s services can provide key support to smaller districts that have limited personnel as well as larger systems managing multiple construction projects, Ramirez says.

Gordian is working with districts across the country on a number of ESSER-funded projects, such as installing safety partitions, antibacterial countertops and hands-free door opening technology in classrooms, Ramirez says.

‘Multiple pots of money’

A large portion of the work in Los Lunas will create single entry points for each of the district’s 15 schools, so administrators have full control over who comes and goes.

The entries will also include a post for school resource officers, who are stationed in every Los Lunas school. “We can contain anybody coming into our schools until we give them access,” Romero says.

Watch the webinar: Summer Construction & Beyond: Prioritizing COVID-19 Safety and Stimulus Funding

While more extensive work begins on the district’s HAVC systems, administrators have placed standalone, COVID-rated air filters in 700 classrooms.

Romero and his team are also installing touchless technology in restrooms and other school areas to prevent students and staff from having to touch light switches, door handles, water fountains, faucets and other facilities.

Administrators are leveraging the unprecedented level of COVID stimulus funding with local bonds, state funds and other sources to complete the district’s wide-ranging construction projects, Romero says.

“We now have multiple pots of money and with all the federal dollars you want to leverage as much as you can to accomplish the goals you have to meet the new realities of safety and security caused by COVID,” Romero says.