TWIN FALLS — When school’s out for the summer, it’s a busy season for custodians and maintenance workers.
It’s a time for deep cleaning, painting and replacing classroom carpet. But for many Magic Valley school districts, larger renovation projects are also underway.
In light of recent school shootings across the nation, improving campus security — such as constructing security vestibules, installing access control systems and adding more security cameras — is one of the key priorities for some districts this summer.
Here are details about projects in 10 Magic Valley school districts:
Jerome’s school board voted in May to approve an architect agreement with LKV Architects — with fees totaling about $14,600 — to create detailed design plans for security vestibules at Horizon Elementary School, Summit Elementary School and Jerome Middle School.
The Jerome School District is still waiting on architectural drawings, Superintendent Dale Layne said. “I don’t know how far we’re going to get with those this summer.”
Meanwhile, other projects include upgrading security access controls at Jerome High School and the school district’s administrative office, which also houses an alternative high school and day treatment program. Some security cameras at Jerome schools will be upgraded and additional ones will be added.
A previously vacant building at Jerome High — which used to house the technology department — is being remodeled to create four classrooms to accommodate enrollment growth. The building will hopefully be available to use for classes this fall, Layne said.
Also this summer, Jerome High’s track is being resurfaced. Some windows will be replaced at the school district’s administrative office and the building’s exterior will be painted. A maintenance storage building will be constructed. And HVAC units will be replaced at Jerome High and Jefferson Elementary School.
The Twin Falls School District’s biggest project this summer is replacing Bickel Elementary School’s roof. It’s a nearly $209,000 project, paid for using a voter-approved plant facilities levy. Work will be done by early August.
“It was in dire need,” operations director Ryan Bowman said. “That roof was a little over 30 years old, so it was time for that to happen.”
Bathrooms are being remodeled at Lincoln Elementary School and Robert Stuart Middle School. Vera C. O’Leary Middle School’s kitchen is being remodeled, including new flooring, metal countertops and a fresh coat of paint. Asphalt work is also happening at O’Leary and some exterior doors are being replaced.
At Sawtooth Elementary School, the Parent Teacher Association took on a project to add a locking mechanism to a set of front entryway doors. It prevents visitors from entering the main school hallway until a secretary buzzes them through. The project also includes putting in glass around the front office window for security.
The school district is in the middle of a bidding process to create school security vestibules at all campuses, except for the three newest (South Hills Middle School, Rock Creek Elementary School and Pillar Falls Elementary School). The school board is slated to select an architect and general contractor later this month.
But work won’t begin until spring 2019. The district plans to construct security vestibules at up to three campuses each year until the project is complete.
Kimberly Elementary School is undergoing a major remodel. The project will be done in late November or early December, but employees won’t move in until summer 2019.
The campus includes two main buildings. The primary building is being remodeled to become the new Kimberly Elementary and the old intermediate school building will be used for preschool.
Upgrades will include enhanced security features, such as a prominent entryway and a system where visitors can’t get into the building unless they’re buzzed in by the front office, said Luke Schroeder, superintendent of the Kimberly School District.
The approximately $3 million project will be paid for using a $14 million bond voters approved in May 2016. The rest of the bond money went toward building Stricker Elementary School, which opens this fall.
The Dietrich School District is wrapping up construction on a new elementary school portion of its building, which includes a second gymnasium. The old elementary, built in 1935, was torn down about a year ago.
The new space will be used starting this fall. Superintendent Stefanie Shaw said she expects they’ll have occupancy of the building Thursday.
Next week, community members will put together new playground equipment, which was purchased using a grant.
The new gymnasium will be used for elementary school physical education classes, as well as after-school sports practices and junior high school games.
Voters approved a $2.5 million bond in May 2016 to pay for the project.
Renovations this summer in the Filer School District are focused on enhancing school security.
“We’re putting in a system where electronically, parents would have to be buzzed in at the entryways to our schools,” Superintendent John Graham said. The district is also installing electronic key card readers at its schools.
Improvements will cost between $100,000 and $200,000, Graham said, and will be paid for using state money for school maintenance.
At Minidoka County School District campuses, exterior doors are being connected to an online system that interacts with security cameras. It allows school employees to see who’s coming up to entrances and remotely open doors.
“We should be able to buzz students in and out of any door,” Superintendent Ken Cox said. The new system will allow school buildings to be fully locked, except during passing periods.
Work will be done by the time school resumes in August. Upgrading the security system will cost about $150,000, paid for using a plant facilities levy.
The last major project paid for by a $37 million bond voters approved in 2015 is wrapping up. A $3.1 million remodel of Mountain View Elementary School will be done in time for the start of a new school year in late August.
The remodel includes enhanced security, including a security vestibule where visitors won’t be able to enter the main school building until they check in at the school office, said Debbie Critchfield, spokeswoman for the Cassia County School District.
There aren’t any additional school security projects underway this summer in Cassia County. The big maintenance project is a new roof at Declo High School.
The Bliss School District will install heating and air conditioning systems in its nearly 100-year-old school building.
“We have saved enough money to accomplish this with no additional cost to our patrons,” Superintendent Kevin Lancaster wrote in an email to the Times-News. “We are excited for these changes as our old coal furnace kept us cool in the winter and hot in the summer.”
Murtaugh Middle/High School will receive new air conditioning, with all new furnaces. It’s an approximately $200,000 project.
North Valley Academy (Gooding)
The public charter school plans to take out many of the old boiler-style heaters it’s no longer using. It plans to build new shelving units in their place for teachers to use.
The school’s security camera system will also be upgraded and some entryway doors will be replaced.
“We are also putting in a lockdown system that includes key (fob) door entry, blue strobe lights for alerts in classrooms, and an emergency intercom system,” Principal Jeff Klamm wrote in an email to the Times-News. “We are making the building more functional, updating the look of our older building, and focusing on increasing the safety of our school. I am extremely excited about the changes that are taking place.”