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Editorial: Call this the practical form of academic recycling

Renovations and upgrades related to referendum-approved building projects started last week at Rocky Branch Elementary and the high school. Above, the Rocky Branch front office is being redesigned for improved school security. Standing there, from left: Mark Kotten, of Kraus Anderson (project-control manager); school board member Rich Gerczak; School Superintendent Tom Westerhaus; school board member Manny Kenney; school district Finance Director Chad Smurawa; school district Maintenance Specialist Andre...

The work is hardly glamorous. Neither is much of it that visible to the public.

Finally, the various projects will be done in phases over this summer and next, when our attention is distracted by warm weather, travel and vacations.

Nonetheless, multiple contractors are working now to fix up your local public schools.

If all goes as planned, this wide-ranging work should reduce the odds of costly maintenance repairs in the future; make entrances less vulnerable to dangerous intruders; make the heating and cooling systems of every building function in a uniform, cost-efficient way that's monitored from a central office; upgrade electrical systems to handle the latest needs for computers and technology; make sure all spaces are usable for handicapped students; and improve traffic design outside elementary schools where parents and buses come together to drop off and pick up students.

These are the main aspects of the one referendum question for $19 million that voters in the River Falls School District passed last November.

Because the workload will largely be carried out over two summers, classroom instruction won't be disrupted. That's certainly a convenient schedule for accomplishing this valuable work.

By the time school reopens in September 2013, district parents and their children can expect to see renovated, modernized school buildings that should be usable for decades.

The Journal will continue to chronicle the referendum construction jobs as they unfold so you get an idea of how your school tax dollars are being used.

As we said, these working projects aren't about showcasing a brand-new school building. What's being done, thanks to your referendum vote last fall, is reinvesting in what we have so it's better and can last longer.


Editor's note: Last week's editorial promoting the independent, nonprofit FORWARD Foundation that awards grants for innovative educational projects had the wrong website address for the group. It should be

Online Poll: Donations: Field of reality

The Journal's online poll question this week asked: Will you or have you supported the community ballpark coming to Hoffman Park by buying a seat or brick or by offering another kind of donation?

Results so far: NO, 69.2%; YES, 30.8%.

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