LYTLE, TX – Another Texas school district is wrapped up in the financial problems of Summit Builders, a construction contracting company.
We’ve told you about the two NEISD elementary schools that won’t be ready for school next week because Summit Builders, the company hired by the district, stopped paying it workers.
Now, district leaders in Lytle say its new middle school won’t be ready for the first day of school, either.
Lytle ISD also hired Summit Builders, so the district paid close attention when NEISD announced two new schools wouldn’t open on time because the same company wasn’t paying its workers.
"There were some concerns, but we were sure that we were on track and that our situation was totally different,” Lytle ISD spokesman Randy Ewing says.
But he says classes start next week and Lytle Middle School won’t be ready because Summit hasn’t paid subcontractors there, either.
"They stopped coming as regularly,” Ewing says, and as a result, construction slowed.
Jeff Stone, the President and CEO of Summit builders, tells News 4 in an emailed statement, “The latest payment from Lytle, is in fact, tied up with our bonding company.”
For this type of major construction project, a bonding company is basically the builder's insurance. If something goes wrong with the finances, it's that company that steps in to get things back on track.
"They took over the payments so we got kind of sucked up in that,” Ewing says.
The same bonding company, Liberty Mutual (Safeco), is also overseeing NEISD’s construction.
Ewing says Lytle leaders didn’t realize, Liberty Mutual would handle its project, too.
"It's hard when you're doing everything and following the rules with your payments and then, because something went wrong somewhere, we're kind of stuck in the middle,” Ewing says.
He says the hold-up has been getting the bonding company to approve the checks.
"It's sitting there somewhere, as I understand,” Ewing says.
Stone, Summit’s President, says, “We have been working diligently with our bonding company to get through the process and get our subcontractors paid as quickly as we possibly can.”
He says subcontractors in Lytle can expect to get paid later this week.
Meanwhile, Lytle’s middle school is 85% done, but students will begin the year in other facilities.