Southwest makes plan of action after bond issue passes

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bids being taken from contractors, work to commence after school lets out

After a $1.3 million bond issue passed in April’s municipal election with 80 percent of voters approving to make repairs and improvements to its schools buildings, Southwest Superintendent Tosha Tilford is not wasting any time getting started.

Tilford, who in her first year as superintendent, initiated a district-wide evaluation of the condition of school facilities, which revealed multiple buildings and systems in need of repair. She recently met with the school board to outline a plan of action and next steps in the project, which includes finding contractors.

CTS, the company hired by the school to manage the project, is now taking bids from contractors.

“They are moving quickly on bids and want to get started on the projects,” Tilford said.

After the bond issue passed, Tilford said she was elated to see the show of support for the school district by the community.

“I was so excited,” she said. “I was so proud for the school and the community, and I think it really showed how much the community appreciates the school. And, the school definitely appreciates their support. I was super appreciative the community came out and supported us like they did.”

Now, it’s time to get to work and take care of the building issues, which Tilford hopes can be completed by the end of summer, before a new school year begins.

“I’m sure the weather will be part of the factor, and we’ll hope the contractors will have some good work days, but the goal is to have the work done by the time school starts again. Within a couple of weeks, CTS should have all bids finalized, then I will meet with them and we’ll sign the paperwork to get things started.”

A recap of areas targeted for repairs and renovation, including HVAC, plumbing, flooring and insulation, are as follows.

Middle school gym

“The first thing is the contractors have to determine if the middle school gym has to have piering or not,” Tilford said. “If not, they will take care of all the settling problems, put new insulation in the ceiling and an air conditioning system in and renovate the floor. If it does need piering, they will start with that portion first.”

Elementary school restrooms

Renovation of the elementary restrooms will remove existing plumbing, which dates back to the early 1960s, upgrade two existing restrooms and add another set of restrooms at the end of the north hallway.

“They are going to completely renovate our restrooms, then build new ones on the north end of building between the existing building and multi-purpose room,” Tilford said. “The preschool and kindergarten classrooms will have their own set of restrooms, as theirs were no longer functioning. All of the preschool and kindergarten children had to go down to the other set of restrooms, so that’s why we’re adding the new section of restrooms.”

Heating and air

In its evaluation of the school’s facilities, CTS had advised the district upgrade its HVAC units on the elementary and middle school campus to energy-efficient units, which would help conserve both energy and school dollars. Due to their age, the current units cannot be repaired due to lack of parts.

“If there is any money left [after it has been determined if piering is needed], then they will start replacing our heating and air conditioning units on the elementary and middle school campuses, because they are over 20 years old,” Tilford said. “If the middle school gym doesn’t need piering, there will be more money that we can use for heating and air conditioning work.”

Tilford, who attended and graduated from Southwest, said there was no air conditioning when she was a student.

“Now, everything is air-conditioned, but we didn’t have it at school at that time,” she said. “It’s been very difficult on our students without air conditioning, such as in the gym, and likewise with the spectators, as it makes it very uncomfortable when it’s so hot.”

Tilford said the renovations are going to update the buildings and make things better for everyone.

“It’s going to help the students tremendously,” she said. “The middle school gym will be brought up-to-date and also be structurally sound, [not that it’s unsafe but it was starting to have some settling problems], and the restrooms will be a huge benefit because we had our children actually on a restroom schedule because of so many children having to share two bathrooms. So, they won’t be on a schedule, plus they will be closer to their classrooms.

“In the boys’ restrooms in the old facilities, we had two urinals that weren’t working, so they were already down a couple of urinals. The renovations will both take care of the facilities that weren’t working, plus give us adequate facilities.”

Tilford may have initiated the renovations, but gives her board credit.

“I just gave the patrons the information and expressed the need to the school district, and thank heavens they voted for it,” she said. “I’m very appreciative of their support. I also have a bond issue committee of about 15-20 people that helped me get a lot of information out and they were a huge asset in this endeavor.”

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