Onekama School construction projects moving forward

ONEKAMA — When a school district gets the trust of the voters to approve a millage request for improvements to their campus, school officials like to keep the public informed about the progress of those projects.

Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes updated his board of education on the progress being made in those areas this week.

Shown is one of the boilers that were removed from the Onekama Consolidated Schools. The district is doing several projects this summer including replacing the boilers and certain sections of the roof.

Shown is one of the boilers that were removed from the Onekama Consolidated Schools. The district is doing several projects this summer including replacing the boilers and certain sections of the roof.

District voters gave approval to a zero mill increase and one mill sinking proposal on May 2, 2017, for those types of improvements and for technology upgrades.

The $1.7 million generated from the zero mill increase is being used to replace roofs, unit ventilators and condensing units, the grade the building’s boilers and heating system, and add a new heated stairway between the parking lot and building.

A second proposal that was approved was the 10-year, 1 mill sinking fund millage. It will create a fund to provide technology upgrades, capital improvements and repairs of the school’s facilities.

Hughes said work is in full swing on those roof and boiler projects now that school is officially over for the summer.

“Basically everyone is mobilizing now that school is out,” said Hughes. “We took the delivery on our roofing and insulation materials this past Monday and our construction superintendent Mike Hollingshead, from Wolgast Construction, is on site getting everyone mobilized.”

Hughes said some people may have already noticed that the old boilers have been taken out of the building.

“The old boilers have been removed and are gone,” said Hughes. “The new boilers have been installed and now they are just working on piping them, the controls and all the electrical parts.”

Hughes said they had to wait for the end of the school year for the next step of the process with the boilers.

“Now that the teachers and students are gone the next phase is going to be replacing the unit ventilators in many of the classrooms and they are going to start working on the roof,” he said

Portions of the roof that are going to be replaced are the ones over the 1997 and 2005 additions to the building.

“On June 25 they plan to start working on the new stairway coming into the building as they are putting a heated stairway up by the entrance to the building,” said Hughes.

During the winter months there has been some problems with keeping that stairway from icing up.

Hughes also reported that a bid was approved by the board for drainage work to the football and track area.

“The low bid $35,172 from Grade-Rite LLC was accepted,” said Hughes. “They are putting in drainage as there is some traditional low spots around the track from the clay and it pools instead of draining. What they are doing is trenching it, and then put drain tile and stone with the goal of keeping it dry.”

Board members also approved spending $117,090.41 from that 10-year sinking fund for technology upgrades that will be put in place for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

“Now that we have the sinking fund technology budget it will allow us to annually update our technology,” said Hughes. There is a lot of upgrades for the smart boards.”

Teachers use the smart boards in the classroom and they are a highly sophisticated replacement for the traditional overhead projector. There is opportunity for hands-on collaboration that allows students to connect to them with iPads and laptops right from their desks.

Hughes said despite all the construction activity there still will be access to the building.

“We will be open for business,” said Hughes “There will  be daycare, team practices, special education classrooms here, so basically we will be working around a construction site. The improvements have to be done and we are right on target with the project.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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