Board looks to improve schools

NAPPANEE — When folks conjure up images of things that they would one day hope to achieve or accomplish, they sometimes compose a wish list. 
And members of the Wa-Nee Board of School Trustees were given a chance to do likewise during their most recent session. Members were offered a detailed and compelling explanation of building upgrades and amenities that will need to be dealt with within the next few years. 
Superintendent Joe Sabo shared these revelations with the board, providing specifics on which buildings have pending concerns, as well as where and how the financing will be secured.
Sabo explained that the projects have tentatively been corraled in such a manner that tackling a grouping of them on an annual basis would keep the costs at an estimated $2 million, which would be paid from the debt service fund. The fund receives incoming revenue from taxes, and does not reflect any sort of increase from the current financial structure, Sabo said.
The list of repairs that Sabo believed might be attempted first includes an upgrade to the refrigeration system at NorthWood High School.  Boilers also need to be replaced at NorthWood High School and at Woodview Elementary and Wakarusa Elementary. Sabo cited efficiency factors, and noted that the boilers at the two elementary schools are original ones installed when the schools were constructed approximately 20 years ago. Sabo mentioned that there is a need for new gym flooring and bleachers for the “Panther Pit” at NorthWood High School. 
The current gym floor has been resealed often, and could perhaps sustain one more seal, but Sabo revealed that exposed nail heads are beginning to show. The bleachers are also not in compliance with federal standards for safety, Sabo added, noting that too much space exists between the risers.
NorthWood High School also stands to benefit from new auditorium lighting and a replacement of coolers and a freezer unit for the cafeteria. This initial round of upgrades and renovations has been estimated to fall near the $2 million mark.
Another endeavor that would likely come within the $2 million range would be the construction of a new office suite at NorthWood High School. Sabo expressed security concerns about the present alignment of the main entrance at the southwest corner of the campus. 
When visitors enter through the doors, they must travel through a significant length of a main corridor before reaching the office, which permits potential access to the fine arts wing and other areas of the building reserved for students and staff.
By relocating the office complex, and situating it directly by the entrance, guests would have to pass through employee scrutinization before receiving the green light to venture further.  Sabo said that the former office location would serve well for extra classroom space, possibly for the special education and functional skills departments.
The final series of enhancements, also projected to land at the $2 million threshold, includes a broad spectrum of changes that would impact a number of the schools. One project would involve the installation of air conditioning for the “Panther Pit,” while another would allow for the reworking of former office space at NorthWood High School into classroom space, as detailed in the second phase of renovations. 
Nappanee Elementary would be targeted for a new roof and extra storage for the maintenance sector. Parking lot repairs would be on tap for NorthWood High School, NorthWood Middle School, and Woodview Elementary, while new cafeteria flooring would be featured at NorthWood High School. A suggestion to construct storage options at NorthWood High School included the possibility of creating space beneath the bleachers. 
New generators were noted as a priority for all three elementary schools and for NorthWood Middle School, while all five schools are in line for some ceiling tile replacement. All of the schools, as well as the Administration Building, have been deemed in need of wireless Internet capabilities.