Voters in the Farmington R-7 School District will be determining the fate of a $16 million bond issue seeking to upgrade school facilities and add security improvements when they head to the polls April 2.
This is a no tax increase bond issue, so all projects would be completed using the existing debt service tax rate of 90 cents.
If passed, general improvements in the district will include technology upgrades, the purchase of 10 additional buses, intercom and bell integration, LED lighting, retrofit work and security camera system upgrades and replacement.
According to Superintendent Matt Ruble, most of the building upgrades are designed to meet ADA and building code requirements along with security issues.
The most extensive changes being made to buildings in the district are the planned phase one upgrades to Truman Auditorium. Built in 1927, it is the oldest building in use by the Farmington School District. The auditorium's cornerstone lists several prominent community leaders from Farmington’s past — school board members Rolla Cozean, George Watkins and Fred Karsch and then-superintendent W.L. Johns.
The most visible change made to Truman Auditorium would be to the front steps. The existing steps are worn and would be replaced with a new landing at the front entrance that would feature sweeping, curved steps at both the east and west ends of the landing. Sloping off to the east would be an ADA compliant covered ramp allowing handicapped access to West College Street.
Interior renovations would include new stage lighting and sound, new lower level auditorium seating, general house lighting and new window shades and drapes. Additionally, the building's interior would receive new finishes throughout.
Another major project to be financed through the bond issue are the phase one upgrades at Jefferson Elementary that would include renovation of the school's current secure entry, ballistic film installed at the main entrance, as well as a storm shelter/library addition and library furniture. The addition to Jefferson Elementary is designed to be a flexible use building addition for the school that will meet future building code changes.
Superintendent Ruble explained the reasons for the flexible use addition.
“Anytime we have inclement weather, that will be a place that students, staff and any visitors in the building can go and be sheltered safely,” he said. “The bonus of using a shelter and having instructional space [is having] the best of both worlds.
It will be the new library media center and provide us with some flexible space. It could be instructional meetings, it could be a classroom, it could be team teaching. It’s going to be 3,500 square feet of open space with some retractable walls so that it can be the library space and two actual classrooms or meeting rooms. The capacity will hold everybody as far as students and staff.”
Other upgrades at Truman would include the installation of ballistic film at the main entrance, interior auditorium renovation, auditorium entrance renovation and district meeting room roof repair and replacement.
Because of the sheer number of construction projects planned for the bond issue, they have been broken down into phase one and Phase 2 designations.
Explaining why the work is being completed in two phases, Ruble said, “There’s only so much work you can get done in the summer. “The timing of the bond issue [leaves the school district] with very little leeway to order all of the materials that will be needed and getting that construction done before school starts in August. Phase one projects can get done this summer, while phase two projects can be done during the school year or will be planned to start in the summer of 2020.”
Other proposed phase one upgrades would include:
Farmington High School: Expanding the high school cafeteria, upgrading the HVAC system, roof repair and replacement, track resurfacing and ADA upgrades to the visitor bleachers;
Farmington Middle School: Secure entry renovation, ballistic film installed at the main entrance, cafeteria expansion and classroom renovation;
Lincoln Intermediate School: Secure entry renovation, installation of ballistic film at the main entrance and at cafeteria windows, partial HVAC upgrades, parking lot expansion and cafeteria equipment upgrades;
Roosevelt Elementary: Upgrades to the HVAC system;
Washington-Franklin Elementary: Parking lot upgraded;
Planned phase 2 upgrades would include:
Farmington High School: Expansion of the parking lot, addition of an activities building, cafeteria expansion (courtyard infill), secondary secure entry, ballistic film at the main entrance and a new athletic field entrance;
Middle School: Upgrade of cafeteria equipment;
Lincoln Intermediate School: Partial roof replacement;
Roosevelt Elementary School: Secure entry renovation, ballistic film at the main entrance, ballistic film at cafeteria windows, replacement of exterior cafeteria doors, roof replacement and cafeteria equipment upgrades;
Washington-Franklin Elementary: Secure entry renovations and installation of ballistic film at the main entrance;
According to Ruble, with the rise of school violence and shootings around the country, new measures have to be taken to ensure the security of students — including how building entrances are designed for safety. One of the newer measures involved is the use of ballistic film for windows.
“It’s reinforcing applied to windows that act as an additional safety piece, he said. "It’s a recommendation when you’re looking at front entries these days. You’re not talking about a big cost — it’s an extra safety precaution. We want to provide as many safe options for our students as we can. ”
Ruble expressed thanks to the residents of the Farmington School District for their past support of the district’s expansion efforts, and said he is optimistic about future improvements in general for the education and safety of Farmington’s students.
“We appreciate how our parents and community as a whole have supported the growth of our school district and the projects that were completed during the 2014 Issue. We look forward to having the opportunity to continue to improve our facilities to meet the needs of all students throughout the Farmington School District.”