2nd year of GHAPS bond projects wrapping up in time for school

The energy and technology improvements at five Grand Haven schools are expected to be complete when doors open in less than two weeks for the 2011-12 school year, according to school officials. Throughout the summer, construction crews tore apart Robinson, Peach Plains, Lake Hills and Mary A. White elementary schools in order to install several improvement projects that were approved by voters in 2009.
Anonymous
Aug 26, 2011

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Director of Operations Ted Rescorla said crews updated boiler systems and installed energy-occupancy sensors in the classrooms and hallways, new energy-efficient windows and doors, a building management system, skylights, secure vestibules in the entrances, new carpeting and floor tile, and upgraded ceiling tiles in the four elementary buildings.

“I think everybody should be pleased with the results,” Rescorla said. “We mirrored last year’s (improvements), so everything is standardized throughout the district now.”

By the end of the summer, the district will have spent $6.425 million of the energy-efficient bond on the four elementary schools this year, GHAPS Business Services Director Donna Bylenga said. The district also spent $527,000 on a new geothermal system at Grand Haven High School and $1 million on technology — for a total of just over $8 million this year.

The cost of this year’s improvements, combined with the $13.9 million spent during the first year of the bond project in 2010, the district has spent $21.9 million of the bond money, or about 75 percent, Bylenga said.

The third year of the bond project will include energy improvements at the district’s Education Service Center, Central High School and Rosy Mound Elementary School in 2012. The final two years of the bond will include some technology improvements, roof projects, bus purchases and any “extra” items for the district — should there be any money leftover, Bylenga said.

Teachers and staff at Peach Plains in Grand Haven Township will return to the school building on Monday to set up for students, who begin school on Sept. 6.

“This week is the last-minute inspections and they’re going very well,” Peach Plains Principal Kate Drake said. “It really is coming along nicely.”

Drake warned that some construction pieces and equipment remain on the premises, and families should stay clear of the area until closer to the start of school.

“It’s a huge gift from the community and I think it will really be appreciated by the parents,” Drake said of the school bond improvements.

Sue Mueller, principal of Lake Hills — which is in Spring Lake Township but part of the Grand Haven school district — said the improvements done over the summer make the elementary school “look like a new building.”

“We were worried we would not get in the building, but we’re in and we’re really excited,” she said. “I think the building looks refreshed, and feels warm and inviting.”

There is an open house for all of the schools that underwent construction over the summer scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22.

“We’re not just improving our energy efficiency, but we’ve given each of the buildings a facelift with new carpeting, paint and outside appearance,” GHAPS Superintendent Keith Konarska said. “I think parents and students will be very excited about the investment we’ve put into our buildings and the changes they’ll see in the buildings when school begins in a couple of weeks.”

Konarska said the district has already seen more than $30,000 in savings as a result of the energy improvements done last summer at White Pines Middle School.

“We’re hopeful to see more positive results of the energy upgrades and bond projects — with money that will be put right back into the classrooms,” he said.

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