Schools have summer to-do lists
Though class is out for the summer, construction crews, electricians and custodians are in as Washington County school districts spend the hottest months fine-tuning buildings, replacing roofs and repaving parking lots to have facilities in top shape for when students file back in August.
From Belpre to Marietta and over to Frontier, thousands of dollars are poured out of permanent improvement funds, operating levies and general funds to keep school buildings safe and in good condition.
Most projects are under way or gearing up, all with the goal of getting everything finished by the end of summer vacation.
Belpre City Schools just finished upgrading its lighting and HVAC systems throughout its two schools, Lawton Building and district office under House Bill 264. The bill opened up a loan system for schools to boost energy-efficient systems to save on utilities in the future.
The project took about $500,000, which schools officials say can be paid back throughout time as a result of savings on energy.
Superintendent Tony Dunn said over the summer, the work is all about boosting security.
“We received a safety grant from the state of Ohio that gave us $5,000 for each of our (four) buildings to improve the secure entrances for our schools,” Dunn said. “Over the summer we are re-configuring entrances at the elementary school and high school so that the general public will enter a secure room before being let into the school.”
The $20,000 total from Ohio does not cover the entire overhaul of security systems, meaning the district will carve out about $9,000, or $4,500 for each school, to fill in the remaining cost.
“It’s all about giving people that peace of mind and making them feel safer in these buildings,” Dunn said.
The district is also working on a major stadium project to replace all the wood-paneled bleachers with aluminum.
“We hope to recoup every bit of that with donor money,” Dunn said, as the district plans to hold fundraisers to generate the $50,000 to $60,000 to cover the costs.
Fort Frye’s major improvement project is replacing the roof the sits atop Lowell Elementary.
The $406,300 bid was granted to BDT Architects of Athens and Hash’s Construction of Bidwell, and contractors estimated the work, which began in a preliminary fashion in June, will take until right up before school starts again in August.
“The roof is over 20 years old and we’ve experienced multiple leaks,” said Superintendent Stephanie Starcher in a previous Times article. “It’s been inspected numerous times and we determined we needed to completely replace it.”
The cost will come from the district’s permanent improvement plan.
Most work done over the summer in the Frontier Local school district involves moving the remaining items out of the now closed Lawrence Elementary School.
The district is also resurfacing and restriping the parking lots at Newport and New Matamoras elementary schools and Frontier High School throughout June.
District Treasurer Frank Antill said work is being contracted through N&W Sealing in Marietta, but until the district determines exactly how much square footing of resurfacing it will need in the end, a cost could not be given.
Marietta Superintendent Harry Fleming said he must express a lot of appreciation to voters for passing a permanent improvement levy several years ago to speak for all of the projects going on in his district over the summer.
“That gives us the access to do these projects,” he said. “Without it we’d be hard-pressed to get them done at all.”
Dave Davis, head of transportation and maintenance for the district, said a total of $50,000 had to be spent on Putnam and Washington elementary schools to fix parts of roofs.
“There’s some areas that have to be redone from the weather,” he said. “Those needed it most.”
A leaking gas line discovered at Marietta High School in the winter meant about $49,000 to replace it over the summer.
“Old plumbing can be a nightmare, but we don’t want gas leaking, that’s for sure,” Davis said.
The district is also in its second summer spent replacing the HVAC system in the auditorium to the tune of about $58,000. That should be finished within a few weeks.
“The buildings are still opened in the summer, especially the high and middle school, for open gyms or rentals for events, so there was just not enough time to do it in one summer,” Davis said.
Also out of improvement funding, the district is in the process of moving all of its vo-ag programs into the high school when they were previously scattered throughout different buildings.
“That’ll take some electrical upgrades to make room for a new air compressor and other equipment, and it’ll cost about $8,000,” Davis said.
Smaller projects include what Davis said is a “few $100 payments” here and there for things like re-painting a ceiling in the high school and fixing some floors, though he said that work will be based on what is left over and can be worked into the budget.
No one could be contacted in regards to projects going on within the Warren Local school district, but the district did report on its calendar that maintenance work will close the Warren High School gym from late June into mid-July.
The Washington County Career Center is spending the summer doing a few basic improvement projects, but this time around it will include work from some actual students.
“Our Adult Remodeling Class is actually replacing the lights and ceiling grid in our cafeteria for us this summer,” said Secondary Director Mike Elliott. “They’ll be working on it here for a while, but it’s a cool project.”
The total cost has not yet been determined for the lighting work, but Treasurer Joe Crone predicted it to be a bit more than $10,000.
The staff parking lot was completely repaved earlier in June at the cost of $22,000 from general funds.
“We will also continue our annual driveway replacement project that we started three years ago,” Crone said. “Each year we replace about 250 feet of our driveway that loops around our high school building with concrete, and that costs $42,000 annually.”
Crone reported that the school is also working to obtain quote estimates to upgrade outdoor security cameras so that outside activity can be monitored from inside.
The two-school district in Waterford does not have too much to worry about over the summer as far as major projects.
“All parking lots will be resealed, hopefully by the end of June,” said Superintendent Bob Caldwell.
District Treasurer Rachel Miller said the work will be done by N&W Sealing at the cost of $20,131 from general improvement funds.
“We’re also cleaning, waxing, repairing and painting at the elementary and high school,” Miller said.
Work will be done by Marietta Paint and expected completion is for August, at the cost of $5,000.
Updates to classroom electrical work, Miller said, will cost $12,000 and are also expected to be finished in August.
“We have had our roofs inspected and core samples taken, and those results should be known shortly,” Caldwell said.
Roof inspection results could result in the replacement of parts or entire roofs, and Miller said the inspection cost the district a total of $8,200 to have Tremco, Inc. out of Cleveland to perform the work.