Monday evening marked the beginning of the long-awaited transformation of Goodland USD #352, a wait that took some 45 years.
Superintendent Bill Biermann, representatives of the school board, Mayor Annette Fairbanks, Northwest Tech President Dr. Ed Mills and members of the community gathered at West Elementary School to celebrate the beginning of a renovation project that will affect future students for years to come. The project not only updates facilities for faculty and students, but will also provide much needed safety improvements.
“With the external hallways and how we are designing the main entrance to be more of what we would call a safety vestibule, I think increased safety was a big part of it,” Biermann said.
The renovation’s main purposes are to replace outdated mechanical and electrical systems within the schools, construct reliable storm shelter facilities and to address inadequate security issues within buildings. Currently, the elementary buildings have direct exterior entrances to classrooms.
“We wanted to try to get a few things done at West here this summer before school started, and as soon as school starts, you’ll see a lot of the work here move to North Elementary,” Biermann said. “They’ll pretty much renovate that whole building. There are four new classrooms we are adding on to that.”
Both North and West Elementary will also have new bathroom facilities constructed over existing courtyard areas in the center of the structures.
Since North Elementary is currently abandoned and can renovated while school is in session, Biermann hopes construction on the building will be complete by next March. This means the main renovation work for West Elementary will commence summer of 2014 when school is adjourned.
When finished and reopened, North Elementary will become a 3rd-6th grade facility. Grant Middle School will be closed and, according to Biermann, possibly sold, meaning Goodland High School will host 7th-12th graders.
West Elementary will be a facility for pre-kindergarten-2nd students. Central Elementary School will become a future early childhood center and the new headquarters of the district office and of the central district IT center (current building will be closed and sold).
Second grade teacher Deborah Bantam acknowledged that the schools “haven’t had a major update as far as classrooms in a long, long time.” She also believes that the added corridors will help with insulation in the winter.
Goodland High School will feature new energy efficient mechanical systems and a new kitchen facility to serve 350 students.
The combined bond costs of Goodland High School, North Elementary School and West Elementary totaled $14,995,717 according to the school system’s website. USD #352 last had a successful bond issue in 1968, resulting in the construction of North and West Elementary Schools.
Visit http://www.usd352.org/ for more information, proposed renovation pictures, and videos.
—This story was written and compiled by Beau Tiongson