School contractor explains work stoppage

Unpaid construction workers pulled off job at two N.EISD elementary schools

By April Molina - Reporter
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SAN ANTONIO - Some $27 million in bond money is funding the construction of both Vineyard Elementary and Las Lomas Elementary in the Northeast Independent School District, but it is not guaranteeing a completion date.

"We knew at some point that it looked like construction was falling behind, however Summit kept saying, 'Apodaca is really quick, they can do the job,' and, 'Don't worry, we're going to get these schools done by our deadline,'" said NEISD Communications Director Aubrey Chancellor.

On May 7, subcontractor Apodaca pulled their workers off the job, explaining the contractor Summit did not make payroll.

After weeks of not returning KSAT's phone calls, Summit went on the record.

"We met on May 4th. They said they needed a check to make payroll, we gave them that check and then we found out over the weekend that they did not use that check to pay their labor," said Summit President and CEO Jeff Stone.

Apodaca Project Manager Ernest Garza said the $70,000 check from Summit was only a portion of what was  owed.

"What they owed was above and beyond the $70,000, because $70,000 was just one of the draws on one of the schools. We were doing three projects," Garza said

Contrary to what Stone said, Garza recounts several phone calls to Summit in which they mentioned eventually paying Apodaca's workers.

"Somebody's lying somewhere because to my knowledge, Apodaca's not been paid, otherwise we would still be on the project," Garza said.

For now there are more than 50 workers left a paycheck short without a job.

"It's been over a month already. A lot of them have lost their homes, their phones, and their cars," Garza said.

The district has attempted to mediate the dispute explaining there is only so much they can do.

"We are extremely frustrated by this entire process," Chancellor said.

Regardless of who is shorting the workers, the end result will be bussing hundreds of kids to alternate schools come August, and all the shuffling that goes along with that.

Las Lomas is scheduled to be completed Oct. 25 and Vineyard is scheduled for completion Nov. 1.

Despite this, the district is planning to wait until the spring semester to begin classes at the new schools.

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