Despite many days of rain this summer, which may have delayed construction, the capital projects being done around the Island Trees School District are moving right along.
A work in progress: One of the most difficult parts of this summer's capital improvement projects was the digging out of the area outside the new art studio in order to provide egress and lighting for the lower concourse. This portion of the project has since been completed.
The capital projects being done this summer, which were approved by voters in the May budget, are intended to address the expanding population in the district, namely in the high school. As the population increase has reached each school, the district has addressed the increase prior to the expansion. According to Island Trees Superintendent Richard Segerdahl, they are expecting an increase of approximately 250 students in the high school by the year 2005-2006.
In an effort to address this influx, which begins gradually next year, the district planned to convert the basement of the high school, which had formerly been a rifle range and auto shop into an art studio. This area will now be known as the lower concourse. Moving the art studio downstairs to where the defunct rifle range had been frees up two rooms upstairs which can now be used as classrooms. In addition the district is converting what had been the auto shop into a tech ed. lab and a new physics lab. Both the tech ed. lab and the physics lab will be state-of-the-art.
The art studio is expected to be completed by the beginning of school, the tech ed. lab is expected to be finished in the middle of September and the district expects to have the physics lab ready sometime this school year. The district had originally planned to have the two classrooms done this year but because the bids came in higher than expected, in part because so many districts are taking advantage of a state aid incentive for capital improvements offered this year, Island Trees has had to hold off on the completion of that portion of the project until next year.
Segerdahl is very enthusiastic about the new art studio, noting that the district has already expanded its music program and the goal is now to really improve the art program. According to school board member Kathy Safrey, by improving the art and music programs, the district is helping to prepare students for the new state requirements having to do with the arts. The new physics lab is another concession to the new state mandates. If the new science lab had not been added there would not have been enough room to give every student the lab time necessary to meet these standards.
In addition to these larger projects at the high school, the district is also converting a former shower room into a team room for girls varsity sports.
The work on each of these projects has forged on throughout the summer, the largest project being the conversion of the rifle range into the art studio. This project involved not only the work on the interior of the room, but the exterior of the building as well. In order to provide egress to the studio and windows, thus making it not appear to be a basement, the dirt outside that area had to be moved, stairways had to be built and the concrete walls had to be cut through. The final result of all this hard work, which began June 26, the Monday after school ended, is a bright and airy work area, which no longer resembles a basement.