Southwest nails down summer projects

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Phone system, elementary cafeteria floor, roofs to see work

After summer school ends, Southwest schools plan to use the down time to update its elementary cafeteria floor, upgrade its high school phone system and complete preventative maintenance to its roofs.

The projects are projected to be finished by the end of summer and in time for the new school year.

The high school has been using two separate phone systems, Mitel and Centrex, under the service provider CenturyLink, which was purportedly inconvenient and inefficient for staff and callers, as callers would have to hang up and dial a separate number if the person they were trying to reach was on a separate system. With the new system, staff can just transfer the call.

"Being on two different phone systems makes it difficult to transfer calls," said Judy Brooks, Southwest school board secretary. "We can't transfer from one system to the other. It will be a lot less confusing when we get phone calls for sure. We will be replacing the phones in the high school offices and work stations, and also putting one in every classroom in the high school."

After the upgrade, the phone system in all buildings will be networked together.

Bob Walker, Southwest Schools superintendent, said the school decided to go exclusively with the Mitel system.

"The initial cost will be $9,476.25," he said. "We will get credits, [three months free], from CenturyTel, resulting in a savings of $3,633.45. The fact that we're doing this will reduce the voice circuits and lines coming in by half. We feel like within the first year, all the up-front costs will be offset."

The total cost includes installation and equipment. The last time any work was done with phone lines was in 2009.

"We had Mitel phones installed in the elementary building in 2009, and then we upgraded our middle school to Mitel two years ago," Walker said. "So, the high school piece is what we've been heading toward. A lot of times, you have to do a piece at a time. It should certainly simplify things and save us money at the same time."

Walker and Brooks agreed the savings obtained from not having two phone systems will more than pay for the cost of the upgrade over time.

The elementary cafeteria floor and office areas are also scheduled for an upgrade.

"We're replacing the floor that we believe was installed in 1990," Walker said. "The cafeteria gets lot of use, not only from school, but from public functions. So, we definitely need to replace that. We'll look at doing something in the kitchen area next summer."

Walker said the school accepted a bid from Precision Design Source to retile the cafeteria and office areas, at a cost of $1.92 per square foot, which adds up to $9,499.76.

"We are cutting a cut a check for that one," Walker said. "The job should be finished hopefully before July 1."

Walker said the school will look at replacing the elementary kitchen floor next year.

Preventative maintenance scheduled includes sealing leaks in the middle and high school roofs.

"The middle school gym is getting some age on it," Walker said. "The vast majority is still in good shape, but we put a similar coating on it a couple years ago. We're going by about a 46-by-92-foot area on the middle school gym roof, and in the high school commons area, we've had some leaks."

Walker said they haven't been able to detect the exact location of the leaks with maintenance crews so they hired Ozark Roofing, based in Clarksville, Ark., to use a product to seal the areas and complete the work. The total cost will be $11,557.90.

"It takes a metal roof that's structurally sound and will seal where the joints are and fasteners that have worked themselves loose over the years," Walker said. "The framework is still good. This product enables everything to get covered and sealed. We may get 10-15 more years out of our roof that way.

"We have some leaks happening and we're going to hopefully take care of it this summer. Two summers ago, we completely sealed the middle school building and elementary building roofs. Usually in June, you're lining up things for the next school year."

If everything goes as planned, Walker believes the three projects will be finished in time for the new school year.

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