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Schools get new bleachers, tables and other upgrades with remaining bond funds

PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM BATES - School bond money was used to install bleachers in the gymnasium at Barnes Butte Elementary last week.

Crook County students are safer and more comfortable this school year, thanks to several improvement projects that were completed over the summer.

The remaining 2013 bond funds and capital reserve funds were used across the Crook County School District, and more projects are on the to-do list.

Last week, bleachers were installed in the gymnasium at Barnes Butte Elementary, using $39,000 in bond funds.

During construction, the BBE costs exceeded the district's initial estimates because of changes in the economy, explained CCSD Director of Business and Finance Anna Logan.

"The level of construction activity in our area increased dramatically from the time the estimates were done to the time the bond passed and construction began," she said. "We had to make tough choices about which items in the new school to fund. We eliminated the bleachers from the BBE budget with plans to add them back if there was extra money at the end of all the planned projects."

The bleachers were an item that the district knew they could retrofit easily, and they made sure the infrastructure was in place for the bleachers during the construction process, Logan pointed out.

"This is a very exciting time for Barnes Butte. We have our new bleachers in, and this is reason to celebrate," said BBE Principal Jim Bates. "Our bleachers will allow us to enjoy assemblies, seasonal programs and after school sports in a really fun and effective way. We are grateful to our school board, the construction committee and citizens of Crook County."

A big chunk of the remaining $70,000 to $80,000 bond funds have been earmarked for some projects at Crooked River Elementary. New kindergarten classroom cabinets are planned for the remodeled school building, and new cafeteria tables have been installed.

"We have brand new cafeteria tables that no longer pose safety concerns due to long usage and wear," CRE Principal Cheri Rasmussen said of the $23,500 improvement.

The landscaping at CRE was completed as well as some improvements to the fencing, said CCSD Facilities and Safety Supervisor Leland Bliss.

Rasmussen said she is very happy with the front landscaping at CRE.

"It is nice to have the native plants along our parking area. These improvements are so much better than the mud and weeds previously," she said. "The fences have improved our safety concerns with students walking to the crosswalks before crossing the drop off area. My staff can cover the two crosswalks efficiently now."

Bond money will allow for CRE fields to undergo irrigation upgrades, and capital reserves will pay for upgraded locksets.

Crook County Middle School saw several improvements, and more are planned.

Bliss said the grant-funded seismic upgrade in the main gymnasium has been completed. The district also added natural ground drainage to two areas at the middle school, and they replaced a sewer pump. The surveillance camera system will also be upgraded, and plans call for painting the two gymnasiums at CCMS next summer.

Capital reserve funds will be used to upgrade the locksets at Crook County High School, and the roof of the boiler room at Pioneer Complex will be repaired.

Bliss said they have recently replaced a large amount of concrete district wide and will look at more concrete replacement next summer.

In addition, it came to the school board's attention that the well at Brothers School is inadequate, so they directed Bliss to take action, spending as much as $25,000 if necessary.

"Before we make that decision, we plan to conduct an assessment of what the current system will actually do and see if we can get it to perform to the standards we need it to," Bliss said, adding that he will begin the assessments this week.

"The construction committee did quite a bit of soul searching in this," surmised Board Chairman Doug Smith, who also served on the construction committee. "There was a lot of work done as far as how to stretch these dollars as far as we could to accomplish these tasks."

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