Your Schools: Referendum projects to beginNearly five months ago, citizens approved a $19 million referendum for much-needed work on most of our district’s school buildings.
By: Tom Westerhaus, School District Superintendent, River Falls Journal
Nearly five months ago, citizens approved a $19 million referendum for much-needed work on most of our district’s school buildings.
While visitors to our schools right now won’t see any work begun yet, I can assure residents that much has happened since last November’s election.
Shortly after the board approved contracts with the architectural firm of Armstrong, Torseth, Skold, and Rydeen (ATS&R) to design the building project and generate specifications, along with the firm of Kraus/Anderson to manage the construction.
Both companies have been working around the clock to begin the first phase of construction this summer and complete the project by fall of 2013.
The school board’s building committee and administration meet often with both parties to be sure the project is completed on time and within the approved budget.
Phase one of the project this summer will deal with interior and safety issues at Rocky Branch Elementary, RFHS energy management system and safety and security, and the bus garage remodeling work.
Bids for these projects are expected to be let by the board in April and early May.
Rocky Branch work this summer will include: Revising the main entry for security purposes; updating classroom ventilation and rooftop units; modifying sinks and cabinetry for handicapped accessibility; replacement of folding partitions with walls to meet code requirements; replacing failed window glass in classrooms; recaulking; creating interior vestibules at several other entries; updating eyewash for current requirements; and providing additional data/technology outlets.
Exterior site work for Rocky Branch will be bundled with other exterior work and entryway changes at Westside and Greenwood and this work will all be done not this summer but in summer 2013.
Delaying the changes for elementary parent drop-offs and the bus corral locations until next year allows for better collaboration with the city of River Falls for traffic flow and storm-water management considerations, as well as for potential savings for the district by bidding the projects together as one.
All other interior work on Meyer Middle School, Greenwood Elementary, and Westside Elementary will start in spring 2013.
Such areas as heating and ventilation, replacement of sinks and casework for handicapped accessibility, flooring and toilet upgrades, and window and ceiling replacements in these three buildings will commence in 2013.
A likely schedule for bidding of these projects will be November or December of this year, with awarding of bids in January or February 2013.
The building committee has spent a good amount of time addressing district-wide standards for an energy management system that should significantly address electrical and heating bills in the future.
The committee, as well as the full board, is taking steps to be sure the project covers the cost of dehumidifying/air conditioning for most classrooms in our elementary buildings.
And the committee and administrators are reviewing district standards for security to include controlled entries to all buildings, cameras, and a single phone system.
As reported earlier in this paper, the board sold $15.66 million in bonds for this project in January at a much better interest rate than anticipated at the time of the November election.
Interest savings over the life of this first round of bonds is $1.12 million. This means that while we had projected tax impact of $30/year on $100,000 of property last November, in actuality the tax impact will only be $13/year.
That confirms the board’s commitment to keep the tax burden for residents for this project as minimal as possible, while at the same time completing the much needed work on our district’s schools.
Thanks for staying interested and updated on the building projects, since they are YOUR River Falls Schools: Everybody’s Business!