Stalled School Construction Rates An F - Mountain News : Editorials

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Stalled School Construction Rates An F

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Posted: Thursday, August 3, 2017 9:54 am

It is no secret that Rim of the World Unified School District has, for many years now, been talking about construction updates for its school sites. The reality, however, is that not much has been done to improve and upgrade these campuses. Although it’s been talked about, some projects turn out to be too big in terms of price, and the pattern has been for the district to put these projects on the back burner.

The Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Rim High has been known to have ongoing issues and, during this year’s production of “Hello! My Baby,” it was reported that snowfall made its way onto the stage through the vents in the ceiling. It seems that the deficiencies remain a problem.

Then, of course, there is the infamous 300 wing at the high school that has outdated windows — letting in the cold during winter months. The district has gone out to bid a couple of times, but no movement has been seen in an effort to replace these windows. In addition, the problem of leaking ceilings during the winter means placing trashcans around campus to catch the water, but this only adds to the already-cold halls in some areas of the school.

In August of last year, the district showed movement when it was presented with an opportunity for modernization through OpTerra Energy Services and trustees signed a contract with the company. When given the final numbers at a recent school board meeting, almost one year and $4.5 million in deficit later, trustees waffled on their decision.

Since then, the district has chosen to narrow the scope of the project. Now OpTerra will only work at the high school, dropping the projects for all other school sites. The change in contract raises the question of when — or even if — any work and updates will be done at the other school sites in the near or distant future.

For more details about the district’s change in contract and work with OpTerra, see our story on A16.

We are aware that the district currently is facing a large deficit, and money to be spent on construction may not be a possibility right now, but trustees need to remember that a well-maintained school to attend is just as important as the education happening within that facility. An attractive campus helps students become more engaged in attending school.

Trustees must focus on staying up-to-date with construction, and continue having conversation about it to ensure that the work is accomplished. Whether it is one small project a year or multiple, efforts in maintaining our schools need to be made in order to show progress.

Given that we start a new school year in only two weeks, it looks as if students will go through another year of deferred maintenance on their campuses unless trustees take action on implementing construction. This will show students and the community at large that our facilities are a priority.

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