Renovations at the two Webster City elementary schools — Sunset Heights and Pleasant View — are nearly complete, providing increased safety and a friendlier learning environment.
“We gave the buildings a facelift,” says Dave Orton, director of buildings and grounds. “The enhancements will help the schools push forward for several years.”
New fire walls were erected between each classroom and the hallways, where there were previously large plate glass windows. New fire-rated doors were also installed in each classroom.
“We had to bring them up to code,” Orton explains.
The doors feature new hardware and an “intruder function” for safety. Teachers can use a universal key to lock students and themselves in any classroom in the district, offering protection from possible intruders.
The walls in the hallway are now insulated for sound and lined with new lockers with a concrete ledge below, giving students a place to store their coats and 12 inches of space underneath to put their wet or muddy shoes and boots.
“After every recess, there was plenty to do to clean up the mess,” Orton says.
Another change that will keep hallways tidy is the installation of the new Safe Surface elementary playgrounds that are made of rubber surfacing tiles, eliminating the pea gravel that was previously used and often tracked in on shoes.
The new epoxy flooring in the hallways will also be kept cleaner with the installation of walk-in carpet at each entrance.
“It will help keep dust and dirt from getting into the building,” Orton says.
Building boilers hadn’t been updated since 1989; now modern, energy-efficient ones have taken their place.
Classroom improvements include updated electric components and better lighting, new paint, cabinets, countertops, water fountains and floor tiles.
Financing for the improvements totaled $1.6 million and came from the local option sales tax.
Orton says the time frame for working in the buildings during the summer was short, and many of the workers came in after hours, staying late into the night to get everything completed.
Feedback Orton’s received from teachers, staff and students is that everyone is pleased with the renovations.
“Everybody likes new,” he says.