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Published: Wednesday, 5/16/2007

Construction helps improve school settings


The Springfield Local Schools administration complex on Hall Street is bustling with action these days, as construction crews work on the last phase of building improvements made possible by the "no new taxes" bond levy voters approved in March, 2004.

The district is getting an expanded transportation department with bathrooms and a training room for bus drivers.

The maintenance director will get more space and four offices, and a conference room is being added so the district's administrators, who are scattered through different buildings, will have a centralized location.

The district also is building a separate warehouse for storage.

The total cost of these improvements is a bit over $1 million, according to Bob Moellenberg, Springfield Local's treasurer.

Money to pay for the upgrades comes from the two-part bond issue that raised about $9.25 million without increasing taxes. That was made possible by replacing an expiring capital improvements levy with a lower millage and refinancing debt at a lower interest cost.

"We haven't asked for additional money. We've been able to do all this without asking taxpayers for additional dollars. That's good management by the board," said Cynthia Beekley, Springfield's superintendent.

Adds Mr. Moellenberg: "We've accomplished everything we set out to do with our original plan. We've affected every school, and we've gotten favorable construction costs."

None of the district's six school buildings has benefited more from the capital improvements spending than Holland Elementary, which had its own set of problems.

The elementary school finally will have its own cafeteria, which means its students won't have to eat in the adjoining middle school cafeteria that doubles as a gymnasium. The two eating areas will share a kitchen.

When engineers began to look at possible renovations, they determined that portions of the facade of the 1921 building were crumbling and that concrete work was deteriorating.

Renovations could be done, but wouldn't solve the building's structural problems.

So school officials determined the best course of action was to demolish the front portion of the building and construct an addition.

The demolition eliminated four classrooms, but the addition adds six.

The cost of the Holland work is about $1.03 million, according to Mr. Moellenberg.

Mr. Moellenberg says district buildings have benefited from heating and ventilating improvements that will result in lower operating costs.

Also, officials say they have improved safety at the high school and Crissey and Dorr elementaries by separating pickup and drop-off points for students.

Mr. Moellenberg says construction work should be finished by the end of summer.

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