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Official:?Scope of project is wide

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Clay Community School Board is proposing a $53 million renovation project for all the district schools.

Seven elementary, two high schools and a middle school have been inspected by Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger, and he found several issues that are plaguing the schools.

Clay City, Staunton, Jackson Township, Van Buren and Forest Park Elementary schools have several of the same issues the board feels the renovation project will resolve.

"Many of these issues are simply age related," Reberger said. "Even regular maintenance can't hold back time."

Carpet at many of the schools needs to be replaced.

Sink cabinets, kitchen equipment and masonry in the schools need a serious overhaul.

Handicapped accessibility is a major point in many of these schools, also.

"Most need ADA bathrooms and entrances," Reberger said.

"Van Buren has the ADA entrance, but not into the gym from inside the school. That needs to be fixed."

Security is a prime concern, and Reberger has noted many problems with the existing schools that should be fixed.

"We need new doors at some schools," Reberger said. "Staunton still has the original doors and hardware. They should also fix the entrances into the schools so that visitors must go into the office when entering. Video cameras and special door locks are a priority."

Roofs at many of these schools are in serious disrepair.

"Most of the roof problem is age," Reberger said. "Some schools need a complete roof, some only need a new roof over the gym or the cafeteria."

Windows at several schools are original and not energy efficient. They should be replaced.

Schools like Staunton, Forest Park and Van Buren also need some work done on the sidewalks and main driveways.

"Staunton's entrance is just plain dangerous," Reberger said.

"The blind curve at the entrance has caused several accidents already. The board has discussed adding a new drive from a different direction. Van Buren has a dirt driveway, and a dirt parking lot. Forest Park needs new sidewalks."

According to Reberger, Staunton and Forest Park also need a new gym or cafeteria.

"They both have lunch in their gym," Reberger said. "This limits how often they can use that space, and they need more room."

Staunton and Forest Park also have modular classrooms.

"The one at Staunton is similar to a pole barn. It's hard to heat, and the kids have to go outside to go to gym, lunch, art or the library," Reberger said. "Forest Park has a couple of trailers, and they are quite old. They need to go and we need to build extra classroom space and storage space at almost every school."

Extra classroom space is needed at Staunton, Forest Park and Van Buren especially.

Many of the schools need new heating and air units, plumbing, electrical work, hardware, and storage.

"There are a lot of little things that don't seem so bad on their own," Reberger said.

"The problem is that you add them up, and they just can't be maintained. Some of the equipment is so old that I have to look on E-bay or other obsolete equipment web sites to find parts. The price is prohibitive to continue doing that."

According to Reberger, many of these schools still boast much of the original hardware, carpet, ceiling tiles, and bathroom fixtures that they did when they were built.

"We need more space for special needs students," Reberger said.

"We are doing such a great job identifying issues at an earlier age, that our schools have more students who have different needs now than they did 10 years ago."

Fire alarm systems also need an upgrade, again because of age, not because the alarms don't work.

Reberger said each school has needs, and while some are the same at each school, some are unique needs that should be addressed.

"Driveway paving at Van Buren, sewer work at Jackson Township, water softening systems at several others, they each have problems," Reberger said.

The building renovation project will be discussed at the next school board meeting, Sept. 13.

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