Summer break is beginning at public schools throughout Union County, which means a wave of construction and maintenance projects in local schools will soon be hitting high gear.

The following are some of the projects Union County school districts and Eastern Oregon University are taking on this summer.

La Grande School District

Activity will be brisk this summer where old Central Elementary once stood at Sunset Drive and K Avenue. A paved parking lot and tennis courts will be installed there. The tennis courts are needed because the old La Grande High School courts, which were in poor condition, were converted into a parking lot for the new Central Elementary School at 701 H Ave. The new complex will have four courts. Construction of the courts, which will cost between $300,000 and $350,000, will start in mid- to late June and should be completed by the end of September, said Joseph Waite, the La Grande School District’s bond and facilities manager.

The new parking lot will have 60 spaces and will be for La Grande High School students. The lot will help make up for the spaces LHS students lost when the new Central Elementary was constructed. Installation of the paved parking lot will start in mid-June and should be finished by mid-August, Waite said. It will cost $300,000 and will be paid with funds from the $31 million bond La Grande School District voters approved in 2014.

A number of building upgrades are also scheduled for this summer. Improved energy-efficient lighting will be installed in all buildings except Central, which opened last August, and there will be heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements at LHS, Greenwood Elementary and Island City Elementary. At Island City, replacement siding will be installed, and asphalt repair and replacement work will be conducted at LHS and Greenwood Elementary parking sites and the bus drive loop in front of Island City Elementary.

Cove School District

The installation of new playground equipment and sidewalks top the Cove School District’s project list this summer.

Playground equipment installation will begin July 9 and should be in place by Aug. 11, said Cove School District Superintendent Earl Pettit. The current playground equipment is at least four decades old. The new pieces will cost a total of $113,000, all of which will be paid for by the Cove School District.

Plans are also in place for the school district to install a sidewalk and additional lighting around the high school. Pettit said the sidewalk and lighting are needed to help people coming to nighttime events like football games. The sidewalks will cost about $8,000.

The City of Cove will be giving the school district a boost this summer by installing a quarter-mile-long sidewalk down the south side of Haefer Lane from Conklin Lane west to Cove Elementary School. The sidewalk will be wide enough to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians and will be paid for with a state grant. The new sidewalk will connect to the existing sidewalk that passes the elementary school. Pettit said he would like to have this old sidewalk replaced this summer by a new one that matches the appearance of the new Haefer Lane sidewalk, but so far he hasn’t been able to find a contractor who will have the time to install it in the next three months.

Imbler School District

Major projects being undertaken this summer include seismic upgrade work at Imbler High School. The work is being done by contracted firms to make IHS less susceptible to a collapse in the event of an earthquake, said Angie Lakey-Campbell, superintendent of the Imbler School District.

The upgrades include strengthening the connection between IHS’s ceiling and walls to make them less vulnerable to collapse, Lakey-Campbell said. The seismic upgrades are being funded by a grant of about $1.47 million from the state.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer