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04-23-14: Work begins on approved levy projects
04-23-14: Work begins on approved levy projects
Posted on 04/23/2014

Work is under way to update classroom technology and improve aging school buildings following the successful passage of two school district levies in the February Special Election.


Both levies — a four-year Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy and a six-year School Facility Improvements and Technology Upgrades Levy — passed by a comfortable margin on February 11, 2014.


The replacement levy received nearly 67 percent “yes” votes and secures funding for 24 percent of the district’s daily operations. The facility and technology upgrades levy surpassed 63 percent of voter support.


State law only requires a simple majority (50 percent plus one) “yes” votes to pass a levy measure.


Proposition 2, the six-year School Facility Improvements and Technology Upgrades Levy, will pay for a variety of technology and facility improvements.


Technology improvements


About $6 million of the $46 million six-year School Facility Improvements and Technology Upgrades Levy will pay for projects designed to keep technology current in support of teaching and student learning.


The upgrades include replacing or upgrading aging student computers, installing interactive white boards and mounted projectors where none exist, increasing wireless capacity, and modernizing the district’s computer network.


One of the first priorities is to replace aging student computers — especially those that are between eight and nine years old, said Randy Averill, executive director of technology services.


The nearly decade-old computers were purchased with funds in the 2004 school bond, which was the last bond approved by voters. As a general rule, a computer is considered up to state standards if it is no more than four years old, Averill said. “After that, it is really falling behind in the technology realm,” he said.


Another priority in the next several years will be to install interactive white boards and mounted projectors in every classroom districtwide that does not currently have the technology, Averill said. About $2.5 million of the levy money is targeted for those improvements.


Less than half (37 percent) of the nearly 1,200 classrooms in the Puyallup School District are equipped with interactive white boards and projectors, he said. The technology is regularly used to support teaching and learning.


Improving wireless capacity and upgrading other aspects of the technology infrastructure is also a high priority on the list of approved levy projects, he said.


The faster wireless technology will reduce the time it takes for students and teachers, especially at the junior high and high schools, to log on to computers and access learning materials.


Plans are to replace computer network wiring at Pope Elementary this summer, at Fruitland and Wildwood elementary schools in 2015, and at Ridgecrest Elementary the following year.


“The network wiring is so old that it is crumbling in some schools,” Averill said. “We are excited to make these improvements for the district.”


Facility improvements


About $40 million of the $46 million Facility improvements and Technology Upgrades Levy approved by voters will be used over the next six years on Imageprojects including:


• Fixing or replacing aging and deteriorating roofs and structures.


• Making energy-efficient improvements to heating, cooling, plumbing, lighting, and electrical systems.


• Making earthquake safety building improvements.


• Modifying elementary school buildings to support full-day kindergarten classes.


• Upgrading fire alarm, sprinkler, intrusion alarm, and emergency systems.


• Upgrading school play areas to meet safety standards.


The following are some examples of facility improvement projects that will be completed over the next several years:


2014 projects


Newly purchased portable classroom buildings will arrive at schools this spring and summer to make room for the expansion of full-day kindergarten to all 21 elementary schools.


Classroom space within existing schools will be modified to serve kindergartners, while the portable classrooms will be used to serve students in older grades or specialty programs, said Gary Frentress, director of capital projects.


Levy money will also be used to enhance school safety and security, including the addition of security cameras and keyless door entries in some locations.


Keyless entries allow employees to swipe a card programmed to enter a building from any door. Keyless entries are also more efficient in school lockdowns, Frentress said, as all doors can be locked simultaneously.


Basic security camera systems will be added this year at all elementary schools that don’t currently have the technology, Frentress said, while more comprehensive systems will be added at some junior high and high schools to make them comparable with other campuses districtwide.


Over the course of the six-year levy, money will also be used to purchase motion detectors for some schools to monitor high-traffic areas on campuses, Frentress said.


2015 projects


Plans are to replace both the Brouillet and Ridgecrest elementary roofs in summer 2015, Frentress said. Planning will begin this fall, he added, for both roofing projects.Image


Caring for a school roof is much like caring for the roof on a home. Over the years, wind, rain, and other factors can result in leaks or other maintenance issues that need to be repaired.


“Eventually, there are so many patches on a roof that it looks like a quilt,” said Rudy Fyles, chief operations officer. “At some point, the roof finally outlives its normal life span and needs to be replaced.


Brouillet Elementary, located in the Gem Heights development on South Hill, opened in 1990. Ridgecrest Elementary opened nine years before that near Shaw Road and Military Road on South Hill.


Other plans in 2015 include improving the lighting in the Ferrucci Junior High Commons, as well as completing two seismic projects: structural improvements to the Puyallup High gymnasium and Wildwood Elementary covered play shed.


2016 projects and beyond


The district has a lengthy list of projects planned during 2016, including:


• Upgrading fire alarms.


• Painting, sealing, and caulking various building exteriors.


• Reroofing 20 portable classrooms, the district’s central kitchen, and Shaw Road Elementary.


• Making traffic improvements at Emerald Ridge High School.


Other future projects include making energy-efficient improvements to heating, cooling, and plumbing systems; hooking up to public sewer systems at Brouillet and Ridgecrest elementary schools, as well as at Stahl and Edgemont junior high schools; and making paving and field irrigation improvements.