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Paulina school renovations take center stage

The repairs are made possible by the schools bond passed by Crook County voter in 2013

Photo Credit: KEVIN SPERL  - Project Manager for renovations at the Paulina School Brett Hudson, left, and Crook County School Board Chair Doug Smith, discuss renovations to the school with its secretary Lisa McLean last Monday night in Paulina.

A handful of Paulina School staff and one parent attended a community meeting with members of the Crook County School Board and district project managers to discuss proposed renovations to the school as part of the school bond passed in May of 2013.

Teachers Glenifer Fields, Jamie Bedortha, and Wanda Schnabele joined school secretary Lisa McLean and parent Sarah Teskey to hear project manager Brett Hudson and Jerry Milstead present their initial thoughts on possible renovations to the building.

School Principal Kurt Sloper kicked off the meeting by stating his appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the district.

“They have come up with a conceptual design and some good ideas,” he said “We now have the opportunity to provide input and ask questions. This meeting is next in a progression of exciting things that are happening here.”

In addition to Hudson and Milstead, project assistant Heidi Freeman, school board chair Doug Smith, board member Walt Wagner and district Superintendent Duane Yecha were in attendance.

Hudson began his presentation by stressing the importance of student safety as a goal of the project.

“One of the things we want to do is get the entire student body back into the building,” he said. “We hope to retrofit classrooms to get kids out of the modular classrooms, helping with security and providing for the safety of the students.”

Sloper expressed his support for this concept.

“One thing I appreciate about safety is having the student body in the building,” he said. “We do not have good response time out here for help and having everyone in one building and being able to follow protocol takes a bad situation and makes it a little bit better.”

A major component of the renovations is a repurposing of the existing gym into office space, a secure reception area, additional restrooms, media room and library, and cafeteria space.

Hudson said that the design took into account how the existing space has been used in the past, including community pot luck events and jamborees that brought other schools to the building for sporting events.

Milstead explained that a new gym is proposed as part of the renovations, consisting of a pre-engineered steel building to be erected on the west side of the building, where modular buildings now sit.

“The new gym would house a full-sized gym floor and is of a standard size to stay within budget,” he added.

The district had allocated $900,000 for the building that currently enrolls 19 students, according to October’s enrollment count, although the plans as presented represented a cost estimate of $1.2 million.

Milstead commented that the plans also called for upgrades to the electrical system, improvements to water and heating systems, flooring throughout the school, and repairs to the exterior.

“With the budget we are looking at and all of the needs, this is about the expanse of scope that we can get to,” added Hudson. “Adding additional square footage would be cost prohibitive.”

Hudson continually brought the conversation back to student safety.

There will be a single, unlocked, point of entry during the day, entered via a new set of doors at the front of the building where murals are currently painted on the exterior walls, something Hudson expressed concern about.

“Creating an entry on the front of the school is going to impact the exterior murals dramatically,” he said. “It needs to be addressed as they are a part of your community.”

In addition to safety issues, a primary concern voiced by those in attendance was available storage, or the apparent lack of it.

Smith acknowledged the concern about storage but wanted to know if the general concept of the proposed changes would meet the needs of the school.

“We will continue to share developments with Paulina and when we get to the point where we feel we have a final version, we will come back to present it so you know what we are doing,” he said.

Teskey, who has two children at the school, was happy to hear about the project but was looking forward to a more specific proposal.

“I want them to really take into consideration what the staff is saying they need,” she remarked. “Several of them have been here for decades and know what works and where they have to make do.”

Tesky said that what was important to her was providing a safe, comfortable school that functions easily, whether there are 15 kids or 50.

“I want the teachers and staff to be able to communicate,” she said. “I want the school to be a place where, if there is an opportunity, I want the facility to be able to provide it.”

Renovations are slated to begin in early spring with all classroom work completed in time for the start of school in 2015. The new gymnasium would be constructed later in the fall of 2015.

“Student space is our first priority,” said Hudson.

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