This summer Hood River County schools may not have seen the major construction projects that were undertaken in 2011, but some of the schools got some pretty welcome upgrades.
Wy’east Middle School has a completely redesigned main office, which is not only more efficient but will improve the safety and security of the area, according to Hood River County School District Facilities Director Randall Johnston.
With the remodel, Wy’east visitors will make visual contact with office staff the moment they walk in the door.
“It was way overdue,” Johnston told the school board at its Aug. 22 meeting, and Principal Catherine Dalbey heartily agreed.
“We’ve been wanting it for the longest time,” Dalbey said. “This will revolutionize what we do. It was not very welcoming,” she said.
“It’s about making the first impression a lasting one.”
Formerly, visitors walked into the front lobby but had to turn a corner and do another 45-degree turn into a crowded main office before making contact with staff.
“We want this to be an inviting area. Before it was just wasted space.
“When you walked onto the campus and there was no one to greet you, it was not very welcoming. We provide a service and we really felt like having this will help parents feel like they can get more involved. It’s exciting.”
The school also has new marmoleum (an eco-friendly type of linoleum) flooring instead of carpeting in one of its hallways and a couple of classrooms, which will be more durable and easier to maintain, Johnston said.
“We took up some asbestos tile in rooms 27 and 20,” he said. “We also fixed a longtime problem with the floor in room 20 — it was old construction and it sloped about 4 inches in a 12-foot run.
“So the floor got lifted and is now level,” he said.
Other summertime projects at the school included a new countertop and electrical work in one of the classrooms and painting of the grandstands, a joint venture with the county since it also benefits the Hood River County Fair.
“The county painted and we supplied the paint,” Johnston said.
He said the transportation department also received a revamped, more efficient office area this summer.
Hood River Middle School got some pretty big new facilities last year, including its new greenhouse and music room, so this year’s projects may not seem like much, but they are improvements nonetheless.
“We created a new computer lab out of two classrooms located in the old wood shop area of the building,” Johnston said. “We also painted the exterior of the library building and waterproofed the brick surfaces, which were covered with moss and mildew.”
At Cascade Locks School, projects included painting (gym interior and the computer room) and roof coatings (main building).
May Street Elementary School has a new walking track around the perimeter of the play field, which was a PTA-funded project, Johnston said.
“We’re still working on the irrigation changes, but hope to be done with them soon,” he said. “We also removed a wall between two small multi-purpose rooms to create a classroom.”
The school also boasts a new dishwasher and exhaust hood in the kitchen.
Parkdale’s elementary school was also on the receiving end of a big project last year (its new library) so this year not much is new; though there is a study being done on the feasibility of installing a biomass heating system for the school.
“It would be a long-range project; we are looking at three to four years if it looks like a good thing for the district and the community,” Johnston said. “We’ll have more information in the months ahead.”
Hood River Valley High School, another big winner in last year’s construction bond project with its new science lab and music building, had some lower-key additions this year:
The main office was split into two offices; ventilation was improved in a couple of computer rooms that were always overly warm; the counseling office area and conference room had sound dampening improvements; and the kitchen received a new hand sink and a couple of new ovens.
Westside and Mid Valley received new paint jobs in various areas and Westside also received a new oven.
“Almost all remodel projects have been done with in-house staff,” Johnston told the school board.
Johnston told the school board that the Oregon Energy Trust has provided a $6,000 grant to recalibrate the model used in the Hood River Middle School building, to study how it’s doing.
“The dashboard is now working,” he said, referring to the central dashboard that tracks resource system information such as onsite rainwater harvesting, wastewater treatment and solar power generation, so that students can monitor the buildings’ resource flows.
When asked about energy savings resulting from energy-efficient upgrades made to facilities during the latest construction bond projects, Johnston answered that energy savings are meeting what they’re supposed to meet, but there’s still room for improvement.
“From now on, the biggest improvement will be from behavior modification,” he said.