Rain may be good for plants, but it’s bad news for construction.

Dirt is moving on Denton ISD’s 24th elementary school, Union Park, on the U.S. Highway 380 Corridor. Named for the subdivision that surrounds it, the school still is set to open in August 2019 despite recent heavy downpours impacting some operations, officials said.

“It’s a metroplex phenomenon,” said Garry Ryan, the district’s executive manager of construction. “Every job in the area gets hit.”

This isn’t the first time a Denton ISD construction project got temporarily waterlogged. Construction on Braswell High School was set back by heavy rains. The school still opened for its target August 2016 date, but work on some parts of the building stretched into the fall semester.

Union Park Elementary will be built in the style of nearby Bell Elementary School but will come with new features.

Solar panels will be installed on the roof, a first for the district. School board members had been in talks about harnessing solar energy for years but waited until the price of installation dropped. Meanwhile, other school buildings could see solar panels on their own campuses in the future.

“We have over 6 million square feet of rooftop,” Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. “If this is a way that we can be more energy efficient and reduce cost so we can put more resources into the classroom, then that’s something we’ll always explore.”

Union Park also will include a tornado shelter built into the school. Ryan said updated building code regulations are driving the change, but residents should expect to see more shelters included in upcoming projects.

Union Park is the last project to get checked off in the district’s 2013 bond package. Voters overwhelmingly approved the district’s $750 million bond proposal in the May election. Roughly $200 million worth of projects are currently in the design phase because of that passage, Ryan said.

Replacement campuses for Wilson Elementary School, Strickland Middle School and Denton High School are first up on the list, but dirt likely won’t start moving until next summer. Each campus is expected to receive new climate-control systems and more energy-efficient lighting.

Denton High, the bond’s biggest project with a $194 million price tag, is set to open in August 2022 along North Bonnie Brae Street.

The opening of Union Park will mean another round of boundary changes for families in the area. Parents can give input during the district’s final public meeting on the changes at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bell Elementary cafeteria, 601 Villa Paloma Blvd. in Little Elm.

If unable to attend the meeting, go to www.dentonisd.org/rezone to see the district’s two boundary proposals and fill out an online comment card.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @CjonesDRC.

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