Work resurfacing the high school tennis courts (photo provided)Work at Washington Street (photo provided)Work at Dix Street  (photo provided)

Otsego school improvements move ahead

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

With students away for the summer, construction is ongoing and on schedule for several renovation projects at Otsego schools.

Superintendent Jeff Haase said the work was linked to the 1-mill sinking fund tax passed in March 2016.

“As of this week, we’ve finished resurfacing the eight tennis courts at the high school,” Haase said. “We’ve also installed two windows at Washington Street Elementary in the kindergarten rooms.”

He said those previously only had windows that couldn’t open, so, to ventilate, teachers would have to prop open exit doors.

More visible is work at the buildings’ entrances, where crews are redesigning them to be more secure. The current entrances are not designed to prevent visitors from entering the school without first being admitted through the school office.

“The secure vestibules are in progress,” Haase said. “Every building will have a new entrance that will be secure once the school day starts.

“Those at the door will have to push a button that will then display a picture of who they are to be buzzed in. And they’ll be entering directly into the office.”

Another project set to start yet this summer is replacing pneumatic thermostat controls with electronic ones for the interior classrooms at Washington Street. Haase said that is scheduled to start within the next two weeks.

All of this work is on target to be completed before the start of school. The work is also not affecting the schedules of any summer programs at the buildings.

“That’s what’s planned for Year 1,” Haase said.

He said the projects have cost approximately $400,000, and, overall, bids came in at slightly less than the projected costs.

When the 5-year millage passed, it was estimated it would generate $426,000 annually for renovations, technology purchases and facility upgrades. It passed by a 2,017-1,955 vote.

Barring unexpected needs, the five-year plan will move on to energy efficiency upgrades in future years. The biggest expenses would be gradually installing approximately $500,000 worth of energy efficient windows at Alamo and Dix Street schools and replacing portions of roughly a third of the middle school roof for $400,000. In Year 2, the plan also spends $10,000 at Alamo, Dix Street and Washington Street elementaries to replace and upgrade playground equipment.

A 2015 facility needs assessment of the district’s 10-year needs through architectural firm Tower Pinkster identified $8.6 million in renovations and improvements that the district would have to confront eventually. District administration and the school board sought the sinking fund millage to address the most immediate needs.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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