School upgrade: planning continues for bond work 2014.04.16

By DAVID GREEN

Upgrades ranging from roof repair and security cameras to bleachers and personal electronic devices await action as Morenci Area Schools moves closer to acting on a 7-mill levy approved by voters last May.

About $2.9 million will cover the cost of maintenance projects and upgrades, and the total expenditure stands at $3.9 million since the vote also covered re-funding a portion of an existing maintenance bond.

The exact number of mills—somewhere between 7.0 and 8.0 mills—will be known after May 1 when the county equilization department reports on tax values in the district. This will determine the millage rate required to meet the repayment schedule, said finance director  Erica Metcalf.

Capital improvement projects include:

• Replacing portions of the roof at the high school and elementary school;

• Installing new water filtration system at all schools;

• Installing interior and exterior security cameras;

• Installing a key fob system to replace metal keys;

• Creating upgraded computer labs at each school to serve up to 60 students at each location, in order to take state tests on-line. The upgrade includes both hardware and software and will include additional infrastructure improvements for technological improvements.

• Retrofitting of the original high school gymnasium bleachers from 1967;

• Milling and repaving the high school parking lot;

• Retrofitting the boys locker room at the high school;

• Upgrading to the high school bathrooms;

• Continuing asbestos abatement at the high school and elementary school;

• Upgrading lighting and electrical systems for energy savings;

• Upgrading science labs at the high school;

• Upgrading the transportation garage and the replacement of  buses;

• Replacing bleachers at the football field, plus construction of a home-side press box;

• Purchasing electronic devices to accompany curriculum upgrades. Purchases will include laptops and tablets.

• Replacing exterior lighting at the elementary school;

• Replacing sink bases at the elementary school;

• Replacing drinking fountains at the two older schools;

• Upgrading the fire alarm system;

• Upgrading the public address system to merge the middle and high schools;

Additional miscellaneous jobs will be tackled, Metcalf said, but the challenge will be meeting time constraints. Instead of school ending June 6, maintenance projects won't get underway until June 19. Work will continue, when necessary, during the winter and spring breaks in the next school year.

Metcalf said bleachers at the football field might be in place for the first game of the season in August, but if not, the game will move to the opponent's field.

Board members voted to hire the Wolgast Corporation of Saginaw to serve as the construction manager; Ripstra and Scheppelman of Jackson to handle a topographical survey for the grading work near the high school parking lot; and Soil and Materials Engineers of Plymouth Township for geotechnical work on the parking lot.

Kingscott is already serving as the school's architect, however, contracts for the upcoming projects are not yet complete.