Building a better school

With a small time frame to work with and several issues presenting themselves during work, construction at Webster City schools is still scheduled to be mostly complete by the beginning of the school year.

Much of the construction and renovation has been at Pleasant View and Sunset Heights Elementary Schools and Webster City High School. Superintendent Mike Sherwood said during a tour of the facilities that the projects overall cost comes in at about $1.67 million. The projects are being paid for through revenue bonds, so the work won’t effect property taxes.

The many items on the checklist range from classroom and playground renovations to work on school boilers and sewer lines. Sherwood said there was much to be done at the end of the school year.

“Summer is a small window,” Sherwood said. “So, if you have hiccups during construction, you don’t have much time to recover.”

The time the school district has to work on the facilities was further cut short due to seven snow days that had to be made up at the end of the school year. Construction was due to begin on June 3, but did not begin until June 10. That adds up to seven weeks so far that the district has had for construction, and Sherwood said there are still about two or three weeks worth of construction to be completed.

Webster City High School has seen the lightest construction over the summer, compared to the other schools. Three classrooms have been redone in addition to ceiling work. An entire wall in a hallway near the Prem Sahai Auditorium is being torn out. Sherwood said the wall had poor insulation and was not energy efficient. The old glass windows will be replaced and the hallway will have about 100 new lockers.

Other buildings will also see new lockers installed. Those at Pleasant View and Sunset Heights will also have new lockers and cabinets, but those will not arrive until early Fall.

“Even when you plan things out, sometimes you’re still at the mercy of manufacturers,” Sherwood said. “September or October is going to be the earliest that we can get these lockers.”

However, installing the lockers will be a relatively easy task. Sherwood said the lockers ship in banks, and can be easily installed during nights or over weekends.

Pleasant View Elementary School has seen a lot of work done. The PTO fundraiser for a safe-surface playground, which began last year, will pay off with the ongoing renovations to the playground. A new handicap ramp is also being installed from the east parking lot of the school. Previously, Sherwood said the playground was only handicap accessible from the west entrance to the school.

Much of the remodeling is going on in the original addition of Pleasant View. The school’s two boilers will be replaced with a single boiler, and one of the old boiler rooms will be converted into a staff area and tornado shelter. Classrooms at Pleasant View are getting new walls, replacing the old plate glass on the inside walls that Sherwood said was not stable. Asbestos abatement has also been continuing at the school.

At Sunset Heights Elementary School, similar renovations to 12 classrooms are ongoing. Another classroom was added, as Sherwood said the one-to-one technology initiative makes the old computer lab obsolete. Sunset Heights is also seeing renovations to make the school compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the school was also having problems with its sewer line, Sherwood said an entirely new sewer main and new water lines were installed.

Even though construction is still going strong, and much remains to be done, Sherwood said he is confident that the work will be largely done by the beginning of the school year. Sherwood, along with the district board of directors, plan to take a tour of the buildings on Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. before their regular board meeting.