Elementary schools construction nears finish

Sean C. Morgan

Construction is nearly complete at Foster and Holley elementary schools, and Sweet Home Junior High will celebrate a sort of half-way point later this month, according to reports by school district staff Monday evening during the School Board’s regular meeting.

Contractor Gabe McCubbins and his Cutting Edge crew are days away from finishing the siding at Foster, said Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood. The brick work at Holley is finished and ready for Cutting Edge to go to work on the siding there.

Doors at Holley have been removed, repaired and reinstalled, with glass expected by Dec. 18, Darwood said. The district poured cement around Holley for a new cafeteria entrance and walkway to the new doors by the playground.

Bookshelves and cabinets are installed at Holley, Darwood said, and the new staff room is nearly finished.

At the junior high, the office area was scheduled for drywall beginning Tuesday, Dec. 10, Darwood said, and the roofing is done.

Supt. Tom Yahraes told the board that Gerding Builders are working with the junior high staff to plan a Junior High Halftime Celebration on Dec. 19.

“We’re calling it the halfway point at the junior high,” Yahraes said. The contractors and staff are setting it up so that students wil be the first to step inside the new gym and office area for a tour. Both areas still have more interior work ahead, but “it’s really coming along.”

Business Manager Kevin Strong said that as far as spending goes, the project is more than halfway there.

To date, the district has spent $6.9 million at the junior high, he said.

Some $8 million in bond proceeds and a matching grant from the state are funding the project, in combination with funding from the district’s Long Term Maintenance Fund.

To date, the district has accrued an additional $200,000 in interest on the bond and grant funds, along with $14,000 from the sale of a neighboring manufactured home.

At Foster and Holley, the district has expended $3.1 million. The state funded the projects through seismic upgrade grants.

Board members present during the meeting were Joe Kennedy, Jim Gourley, Jason Van Eck, Chanz Keeney, Mike Reynolds, Chairman Jason Redick, Angela Clegg and Debra Brown. Jenny Daniels was absent.

In other business:

– Strong reported that the district was awarded a grant that would provide a 25-percent match on up to $1.2 million to pay down the district’s share of the state Public Employees Retirement System’s unfunded liability during the 2020-21 school year.

“By doing so, we will turn $1.2 million into $1.5 million,” Strong said. The district staff will propose a budget next spring that includes the district’s match into its budget next year.

– The board accepted the resignation of Susan Johnson, a special education teacher at Sweet Home High School, effective Jan. 24.

– Hawthorne Elementary won the Golden Shoe attendance award for November with an attendance rate of 94.04 percent. Holley came in second at 93.52 percent, and Foster was third at 93.26 percent.