The Tuloso-Midway Independent School District Board of Trustees on Monday awarded four construction contracts, worth a total of $3.8 million, in infrastructure improvements.

Two of the four contracts were awarded to D. Wilson Construction. Starting with the original Tuloso-Midway High School and Tuloso-Midway Middle School Tennis Court project, school administrators found early on that the $2.4 million set aside for the construction of tennis courts at both locations could only cover the costs of reconstructed courts at TMHS.

"We're going to get the high school done right," TMISD Superintendent Sue Nelson said.

Due to an increase in material and transportation costs since the district first set out to begin the reconstruction, what were once relatively low bidding practices have steadily increased, TMISD Financial Consultant Ricardo Rodriguez said.

The district will pursue outside funding sources to "patch" the tennis courts at TMMS, which will be a temporary fix to allow students to use the facility, until such time as additional funding sources can be found to pay for an actual reconstruction at the campus. The focus was placed on the high school courts, with UIL standard lighting included, Nelson said. The project is contracted to take 150 days.

The track project will include removal of existing track surface, reconditioning of sub-base material as needed, "high quality" track surface, a new reconstructed field events area drainage improvements and repairs to existing curbs. The work is expected to take 90 days to complete. The project will be paid for through maintenance notes, district officials said.

Also on the project agenda was the TMISD Technology Center. Three area companies picked up bid specifications from the school district for the project, but Ground Up, Inc. was the only construction company to submit a bid. The original budget set aside for the project was $198,500, but the total projected costs came out $12,310 higher, at $210,810. The Technology Center improvements will be paid out of high school bond funds.

Four companies submitted bids for the Primary School Parking & Bus Loop addition. After reviewing possible costs the district could incur from the construction of a bus loop at the primary campus, and renovating the parking area at the front of the school, the district found the project amount would have nearly doubled from previous early budgeted estimates. The district had planned for the project to cost slightly over $300,000, but found the combined costs were more than double that amount.

Nelson recommended that the district proceed on the bus loop addition, which she said should go a long way to alleviating congestion for parents dropping off their children.

Myer Concrete submitted an "irregular bid proposal," while Garrett Construction submitted a base bid of $399,000. Ram-Bro had a base bid of $444,000 and KJM Commercial proposed a base bid of $485,546.

Along with being awarded the project for having the lowest bid, Garrett Construction also listed the shortest number of days for construction at 90 days. In the final ranking rubric, Garrett also came out on top with a score of 95 points. At a final total project construction cost of $383,740, the project will include a masonry screen wall for the kitchen area adjacent to the bus loop, a bus drop off lane, a drop off canopy, concrete sidewalks and 27 additional parking spaces, all located on the south side of the primary campus.

Board members also voted to reject a demand letter from former business manager Carol Sue Hipp requesting a settlement for threatened litigation after less than an hour in closed session discussions.

Hipp was fired from the district in May 2010, and since that time has attempted to appeal TMISD Interim Superintendent Sue Nelson's decision. Appeals made to the school board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Texas Labor and Wages Board all ended in favor of the administration's decision.

TMISD Attorney Roger Hepworth declined to comment on the agenda item after the board's decision was announced. The Nueces County Record Star has filed a Texas Public Information Act Request for a copy of Hipp's demand letter with Nelson.