District 834 spends $8.8 million on long range facilities renovations
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Feb. 9, the district approved the spending of $8.8 million for the renovations of Lake Elmo Elementary, Afton-Lakeland Elementary and Stillwater Junior High School. Among these renovations includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) and special education accommodations. The district plans on carrying out the renovations throughout the summer.
The plans for the spending has been outlined by the district’s long range facilities planning outline from 2014. The planning outline states different priorities throughout the district, including preschool in every elementary, create grade configuration based on academic needs and provide acceptable and equitable learning environments.
The money funding the summer project has come from the bond that residents voted for in 2015. In the division of the bond between the district, the high school obtained 49 percent the bond, while the elementary schools only received 27 percent of the original amount. The money will be primarily used for the renovation of the HVAC systems in the elementary schools and additional space for special education needs in Stillwater Junior High.
Upgrading the HVAC systems will be beneficial for the elementary students, as in the beginning and the end of the year can get relatively warm. The building acts as an insulator trapping the heat in during the warmer day, making students uncomfortable and unable to concentrate on during lessons. The HVAC upgrade will benefit the elementary students greatly by allowing them to concentrate on early learning instead of the heat by making the learning environment not hot, yet not cold.
Along with new HVAC systems, the district will be improving bathrooms by making it easier for students to access and installing sensory rooms in Stillwater Junior High.
In an interview with the Stillwater Gazette, Mark Drommerhausen said, “We talked about needs and what we would like to see improved in the medically complex space.”
Sensory rooms are beneficial for those who are learning disabled by allowing the students to calm down and focus by changing the environment by dimming lights and introducing new stimuli. The new stimuli can be controlled by the student to draw in attention and control behavior.
With the high school construction well underway, the elementary schools and junior high are getting much needed upgrades that will benefit both staff and student alike. Construction should be completed for the 2017-2018 school year, and that will only be a small change in comparison to a plethora of change between moving grades and a new elementary school.