West Side News

The 'Woods' schools won't be left out of building program

Major renovations planned at the two elementaries not being replaced


The South-Western City School District is expected to break ground later this year on the first phase of a project that will ultimately result in the building of 13 new elementary schools.

But the district's two elementary schools not getting new buildings are not being forgotten.

The project also will include renovations to Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools.

Property Services Manager Mark Waller gave an overview of the planned renovations at the "visioning" meeting held by the school board last weekend.

Projects to be completed this summer at both schools include the replacement of low-slope roofs, repair of gutters and downspouts, installation of a new generator and emergency circuitry and the replacement of all windows, exterior doors and electrical door controls, Waller said. An ADA door-assist will be provided at the schools' front doors.

Earthen berms at the perimeters of both buildings will be removed and new brick installed in their place, he said.

"(The earthen berms) had been a trend in the 1980s and they did a poor job of design and installation," Waller said. "We've struggled with them since the day they opened."

Other summer work at the schools will include replacing the fire alarm system; installing new paving, aprons and sidewalks and replacing security systems with about 45 closed circuit television cameras per building, he said.

A new chiller will be installed at Buckeye Woods to replace the used device installed when the old one broke down six years ago, Waller said.

A new area for parents to drop and pickup their children will be created at Darby Woods so that buses and cars will be in separate locations, he said.

There will be no activities at either school while the summer work is under way, Waller said, and the expectation is the work will be done before the start of next school year.

Summer 2014 projects will be installing new technology and the partial or full replacement of flooring, casework, painting and kitchen at the schools and replacing the controls at Buckeye Woods.

Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods will receive the same computer upgrades the new buildings will get, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

"There will be no hand-me-downs" for them, he said.

In other business at the visioning meeting, district Treasurer Hugh Garside presented a report on the potential impact of the new state biennial budget due to be passed by July 1, and reductions in federal aid resulting from the budget sequestration.

State, federal funding forecast

The latest budget numbers provided by the state are projections only and could certainly change, but as they stand, "I'm cautiously optimistic," Garside said.

Under the proposed state budget presented by the governor, funding to South-Western would increase in fiscal year 2013-14 by $7.7 million, an 8.92 percent increase, he said. The following fiscal year would see an additional $4.3 million or a 4.56 percent increase.

"This does not mean this is what we will receive," Garside said. "It would be nice if it was."

One caveat is that 15 percent of the increased state funding for students with disabilities would go to an "excessive cost" fund the state would use to fund catastrophic costs, he said. This action would reduce funding to the district by about $3 million over the biennium.

The district will likely lose about $1.2 million in federal funding due to the sequester, Garside said.