By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays USD 489 school board members toured the new secure entrance at Wilson Elementary School during their work session on Tuesday.
With the exception of Westside school, Wilson is the last school in the district to receive a secure entrance.
In addition to making the school more secure, the ongoing construction at the school includes new offices, a conference room and a staff bathroom. The school only has one staff bathroom now.
The project will cost $782,000, and Superintendent Ron Wilson said he hoped the project will be finished in the next month. However, some of the construction materials for the project have been on backorder.
The USD 489 Foundation for Education Excellence has donated funds toward improving security at all the district's schools.
Wilson's office was very small. This will give school staff more room to work and open up space for other district staff, including the school's counselor and psychologist. The school psychologist is meeting with students in a closet and has no phone.
Other people who visit the building regularly, including social workers and occupational and physical therapists, also will have a place to meet with students.
"It's going to be more secure space and more usable space," Wilson said.
Board President Tammy Wellbrock was a member of the facilities team in 2013. The Monday the group toured district buildings was right after the Sandy Hook school shooting.
The district has been working ever since to enhance security at its schools, she said.
"To me, it's more of a slow down of someone who intends harm, but at least it's going to give us a fighting chance to be able to protect our employees and our children," Wellbrock said.
Anita Scheve, principal, said she feels more comfortable with the new entrance is going in.
Hays High HVAC contract
The district is being forced to call back requests for qualifications that it issued on the Hays High School HVAC contract.
Dwayne Vaughn, engineer, told the school board Tuesday the district was hoping to hire a construction manager that could also function as the prime mechanical contractor on the HVAC project.
This would have allowed the district to involve the construction firm in the design phase of the project and move the project along more quickly. Officials also hoped the process would bring back a lower bid.
The project will likely take two summers to complete. The district officials hope to have the project started this summer.
However, Vaughn was informed after the requests for qualification were sent Friday the district's project would not qualify under the state statute for the bidding process that it hoped to use.
Now all of the design work will be done in advance. The mechanical bid will be done separately. District officials still hope to have the bid ready for board approval by the board's Dec. 13 meeting.
This project will replace the original HVAC system for Hays High, which was built in 1979. It will include a majority of the building. Repairs to HHS's gym HVAC system have already been completed.
Wilson also announced preliminary district enrollment numbers are in. The district is up 18 full-time equivalent students from the prior year.
Wilson said this is good news, considering schools across the state are seeing declining enrollments as populations in rural counties decrease.