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School district looks long-range

Nov 12, 2012


By Starla Pointer
Of the News-Register



McMinnville School District is taking a long -- and long-range -- look at its facilities, from playgrounds and parking lots to electrical panels, roofs and seismic systems.

The district hired a landscape company and an architectural firm to study its buildings and grounds. They developed a weighty, two-volume report that details critical needs and improvements that would make schools more equitable -- giving all elementary students the same physical fitness opportunities, for instance.

In addition, an engineer from the state Department of Energy is looking at McMinnville's school facilities as part of the "Cool School" energy efficiency project.

Their reports build on comprehensive faciility assessment done in 2003-04.

Steve Olson of Dull, Olson, Weekes Architects, the firm that led both the earlier assessment and the most recent study, said the goal this time was a comprehensive evaluation of all the district's facilities' needs and develop cost estimates for repairs and replacement projects; to lay a foundation for future planning; and to determine how to begin implementing the recommendations.

The 2012 study looked a physical needs only, without considering educational programs or enrollment capacity. But "good facilities do enhance learning," Olson said. "Good places to learn improve student and teacher performance."

The district already took a major step toward addressing space and program needs in 2006, when it asked votes to approve a bond measure for additional classrooms. Voters said yes to the $63 million request, and the district built Sue Buel Elementary School, added classroom wings to McMinnville High School and Wascher and Newby elementary schools, and made improvements to several other buildings.

"The last bond's focus was on capacity. This is about, what do buildings need to be livable and adequate space for all kids?" Superintendent Maryalice Russell said.

The next step will involve reviews by the school board, the board's Facilities Committee and community representatives, said Vicki Williams, manager of facilities and operations for the district.

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In general, DOWA found that McMinnville School District's facilities have been "well cared for." However, while the district is a good steward of its facilities, the report says, it has had to put off maintenance and improvements across the board due to budget constraints.

All every site, whether its the 1914 Adams campus or the playground at the new Sue Buel Elementary School, there are needs to be addressed, including accessibility issues, building code and/or fire and life safety deficiencies, and delayed maintenance and updates.

Olson said DOWA's new long-range facilities report suggests about $48 million in upgrades.

About $5.8 million of those are critically needed to maintain safety, Olson said. They include structural fixes to older buildings, roof repairs, electrical panel upgrades, emergency lighting.

Another $19.4 million are important because if they're not addressed, they soon will begin to effect the day-to-day upkeep of buildings, he said. But an equal amount, $19.4 million of improvements, are low-priority, relating mostly to playgrounds and other exterior facilities.

Compared to other studies DOWA has undertaken, Olson said, McMinnville's cost estimates are "reasonable." "For the buildings you have of these ages, the numbers aren't so high," he said.

He said grants might be available for some improvements, such as energy efficient lighting or seismic upgrades.

DOWA identified about $16.8 million, or one-third of the total estimate, as improvements needed to structures, including walls, windows, doors and, especially, roofs. "That's mostly roof replacements," Olson said. "You can keep a roof leak-free for only so long."

The study also identified about $4.3 million in interior needs, including restrooms. It noted about $5 million in improvements of systems, such as plumbing, and about $10 million in electrical work. Also identified were about $11.4 million in upgrades to grounds, including playgrounds, fields, sidewalks and driveways, about about $830,000 to food service areas.

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By school, the greatest needs are at Mac High, $17 million, much of that for a new roof, Olson said. Other recommendations include assessing and reinforcing older educational areas of the building to comply with current building codes; replacing rotted beams in the stadium; replacing windos in 47 classrooms and one entire hallway; building a canopy at the main entrance; replacing some ceilings and carpets; replacing the stage curtain and the white gym bleachers; remodeling student toilet facilities; replacing galvinized pipes; improving the air conditioning units; and upgrade lighting and electrical controls.

Patton Middle School has the second-highest total, $6.4 million, which includes adding canopies over exterior doors, replacing windows and lighting, getting rid of wire glass, and repairing or replacing the roof.

Another $3.8 million in needs is identified at Duniway Middle School. Recommendations include repairing and replacing the roof, getting rid of wire glass, replacing water heaters and resurfacing the parking lot.

Other schools' recommended improvements include: Sue Buel, $364,270; Columbus, $2.4 million; Grandhaven, $2.1 million; Memorial, $2.8 million; Newby, $2.9 million; Wascher, $1.5 million; Adams campus, $3.2 million; Cook, a former elementary school that's currently empty, $3.6 million, about $2 million of that in high-priority fixes to make the building usable; the Evans Street Learning Center, $135,803; the maintenance and grounds building, $1.4 million; and the district office, $930,264.

Those figures don't include the long-term plans for adding a second story to the new wing at Wascher, replacing the old section of Newby or adding another high school.

Some of the playground recommendations, such as adding basketball hoops at one school, already have been taken care of by PTAs. In other cases, the parent-teacher groups have plans in the works.

 

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