Edmond, Okla. school district plans new projects, including security upgrade

Jan. 20, 2009
Projects include security perimeters, facility upgrades, transportation improvements

Jan. 17--EDMOND -- Edmond Public Schools is ready to start spending $15.95 million of the 2009 bond issue money, as plans are under way for five district projects.

The projects include work at North High School, Central Middle School, Russell Dougherty Middle School, the transportation facility and security perimeters at the three high schools.

Visitors to North will need to find their way to the back of the school next year as the main entrance will be repositioned during construction expected to take 16 months from the start date, and will include losing a row of parking spaces at the front of the school.

"Edmond North High School is the largest project this year," said Associate Superintendent of District Operations Bret Towne. "It ties in the top and bottom and expands the media center, administration and counseling offices, adds seven classrooms, a media center storage and a textbook room."

The project is estimated to cost $7 million.

Towne said the new classrooms will follow a 10-year building trend in the business of education.

"In the last 10 years, high school classrooms are being built larger," Towne said. "The old classrooms at Santa Fe were built around 650 square feet, while more recently-built classrooms are 800 to 900 square feet."

The project is scheduled to go out for final approval in June and the bid will be awarded in July, Towne said. An earlier start date would pull workers from other projects, and delay the completion of work at those other locations, like Central Middle School.

Summer days will see Central Middle School undergoing its first major renovation in 30 years, with construction costs estimated at $4.3 million.

The renovation project is set to begin the day school is out, and with the exception of the media center, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.

The school, built in the 1950s, was originally Edmond High School.

"The building needs updating and upgrading," Towne said. "We will be working in the hallways, adding on to the media center, remodeling restrooms, upgrading lighting fixtures, adding new doors, ceiling grids and tile as needed and painting.

"A 2,000-square-foot addition is planned, which will include the media center expansion, and classrooms will get new carpet tile and base. Existing chalk boards will be removed to accommodate new smart boards, and existing metal lockers will be replaced with solid phenolic lockers, a hard plastic which is vandal proof and lasts longer."

As classrooms are added, portables will be removed, Towne said.

"One of the goals is to always remove portables," Towne said. "As we build classrooms we will be stacking out (selling) portables."

Towne said the much needed replacement of and additions to the Transportation Administration building and the maintenance garage will include a wash bay, storage, shop, and the parts room. A new bus storage shed will replace the existing storage shed, all at an estimated cost of $2.6 million.

"One hundred thirty people are working out of a room less than 900 square feet," Towne said.

The administration building will be a metal building with a brick veneer and will be used to train drivers during the daytime. In addition to the training room, an area is planned for drivers, offices for dispatchers, trainers, payroll and a router.

"The barn we are tearing down is 40 to 50 years old," Towne said. "The district's buses don't fit. They are higher than older buses."

Larger tires and taller buses are designed to help lessen the impact in a collision, Towne said.

"We have even dug down through the dirt floor where they park to make room for the buses," Towne said. "Our eventual goal is to get all the buses covered."

Covered buses will be protected from weather and vandalism, and will be more secure.

Russell Dougherty has not undergone any major renovation in the past 10 years. The $1.1 million addition will take 10 months to complete and will include three classrooms, restrooms, a music room and a small office for speech pathology and student testing.

"Russell Dougherty falls in the Downtown Historical area, and what we build has to match what is already there," Towne said. "We have brick that mimics the existing stone, and we have already used it on a recent addition."

All three high schools will be receiving perimeter security fencing and two gate houses at a total cost of $950,000.

"This is not to make the school a prison, but to provide the highest level of security possible," Towne said.

With eight access points at Memorial, Towne said it is almost impossible to secure the high school building itself during the day and at lunch. Seniors still will be allowed to leave for lunch, and at the end of sixth hour the gates will be open.

Towne said seniors will have a colored parking sticker and passage from the lot at lunch time will be done in a timely fashion.

The gate houses will have two parking lot attendants paid in part by parking fees and an additional attendant may be added.

"The primary benefit of the fencing will be in keeping unwanted people from coming onto the campus," Towne said. "The ancillary benefit will be in keeping vandalism down."

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