By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
With the school district’s building enhancement project nearly complete, Camanche Middle School can stand proudly with its own identity.
The project that started in June 2010 has finally reached its completion and those involved couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’re feeling really good about the project,” Superintendent Tom Parker said. “This has increased the usefulness of the facilities for decades to come.”
This building enhancement includes putting in geothermal heating systems at the middle and elementary schools, updating and moving the middle school office, putting in a new science lab and expanding the library and cafeteria at the middle school. Most of the work was done during the summers to avoid disrupting the classrooms.
While all of the improvements are beneficial, the new and efficient heating and cooling systems will provide the most savings. The chances of the schools closing for extreme heat or cold have dwindled with the geothermal system. The district can also anticipate a decline in utility bills over time, according to Parker.
Taxpayers also will see savings as the school board refinances general obligation bonds for another three years; this will provide savings of more than $70,000. The district received the bonds in 1998 for additions and improvements at the elementary and high schools. This is also the reason why the recent project focused on the middle school and not the other two facilities.
Architect Al Varney of Ament Inc., and his contractors have made efforts to keep the cost of the project low.
“We kept our change orders low, but it required a lot of work,” Varney said.
One of the priorities of the project was reorganizing the main office area. The office formerly was not located near the main entrance. Contractors put in a main entrance office area and turned the former office space into a new science lab.
Both the library and cafeteria were expanded and got new energy efficient windows to make up for the lack of natural light in both areas. The library was extended 20 to 25 percent and the cafeteria was extended about 15 to 20 percent, Varney said.
“Putting in the natural light really makes the spaces feel a lot bigger,” Varney said.
Currently, the contractors are tying up loose ends and balancing the geothermal system. The project has exceeded expectations and fulfilled what the district was hoping to do, according to Varney.
“The goal was to change the face of the middle school,” Varney said. “With the enhancements, the school has really created its own identity.”