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March 05, 2013 | 11:47 AMEditor's Note: This is part of an ongoing series about Reek School's referendum project. The series kicked off last week with an article about the proposed parking lot improvements. In the future, there will be a story about the proposal to change the front entrance.
LINN — The voters approved it. Now, it's up to Reek School officials to put their $2.8 million project into action.
That may happen in May, when what school board member Ryan Southwick called "capital repairs" are scheduled to begin.
But there are several aspects to this project, he said, not just the failing brick work, roof and windows, which past and present Reek administrators have talked to local news media about for the last two years. Nor is it just about the parking lot improvements.
There's the redesign of the school entrance, building upgrades and a technology program.
"There's kind of three aspects of this project, (and) we wanted different committees for each of them," said Southwick, who chairs all of these committees.
The three aspects: Capital repairs, technology upgrades and safety, the latter an umbrella term for improvements to the front entrance and the parking lot.
But don't expect to see school officials breezing through this project, which itself took more than a year — and two failed elections — to reach this point. Twice in 2011, a $3.9 million version of the project failed to meet voter approval. In the months after the second defeat, the board scaled the project back. On Nov. 6, 2012, it secured a 337-264 victory.
So it would appear officials found a formula for success, one which will carry over into the implementation of the referendum project.
"We don't want to rush anything," Southwick said.
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Why? Because, he said, they want to make sure things are done right.
Capital repairs, safety
Over all other aspects, the repairs will cost the most — $601,000 for fixing the bricks, $500,000 for the roof, $190 for the windows.
All the brick installed during the 1993 addition to Reek School will be replaced. The project outline calls for one-piece exterior sills and the brick embossments on the west of the school to be recreated on the east.
The outline also states the installation of the brick will be "noted and checked" as it progresses, and that Lakes Area Brick and Block, Zenda, will be the preferred supplier.
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The noting and checking is because of what some have considered to be a poor job on the 1993 brick façade. However, Southwick said there's talk of not letting those bricks, which are spalling — flaking apart — go to waste.
"We're trying to work with Bobby Stewart, of Stewart Excavating (in Fontana), so we could take the old brick off the building and, instead of putting it in a landfill … use it for the base of the new roadway," Southwick said.
The proposal to change the lot — create a separate entrance drive, add 36 stalls and direct traffic through lanes — will cost $450,000.
As for the roof structures, all flat roofs will be replaced with pitched roofs that match the pitch of the original Reek School building, except for the roofs above the gym and locker room. An ice and water shield, 35-year shingles and a 20-year "System Plus" warranty are part of the plan for the pitched roofs.
Membrane-style roofs are going over the gym and locker room.
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The project calls for replacing all the exterior school windows. The new windows will be aluminum commercial-grade. The windows facing the south will have some kind of "glazing," the outline states, to reduce the light which comes in.
The new classroom windows will be able to open, and there will be screens on all opening windows. Pull-down blinds will be installed in each classroom.
Other capital items include work on electrical panels and feeds ($45,000), painting the interiors ($80,000), changing the window air conditioning units ($30,500), upgrading plumbing fixtures ($10,000), enclosing the air handlers on the gym ceiling ($10,000), installing a water heater in the science room ($4,500) and exterior lighting ($4,000).
Perhaps the most open-ended aspect, in terms of a timeline at least, is the technology program.
Between $300,000 and $450,000 will be used to improve the school's Internet access, server upgrades and equipment purchases.
Southwick said they will look at bringing in devices, such as iPads and iPods, as well as making wireless web service accessible throughout the school. Currently, Reek has smart boards and fifth-graders use tablets, Southwick said.
"We want to give students access to use what we're putting in. … I would hope that (by) the next school year, we would have introduced these things," he said.
But Southwick added there's no concrete timeline for that. However, he shared a moment that was inspiring to him in the area of school technology. In a way, the credit should go to last year's proponents of the dome school idea. They urged the Reek board to look into building a dome school instead of repairing and enhancing the current structure. "I got the opportunity to go to Grand Meadows School (in Minnesota), which was a dome school," Southwick said. "I was really impressed with it … their use of technology. There, they give all second-graders an iPod and they could do audio drills to help them with their spelling."
Which is what they will be doing at Reek, thanks to those who supported the project, Southwick said.