As Watertown-Mayer kindergarten students started school this week, they were greeted by a number of improvements to the Primary School building that were completed just in time for the school year.
After a 55-day, $3.9 million construction project, improvements to the school’s HVAC system, roof, floors and ceilings, lighting, cafeteria, and office spaces are basically finished. Expect for a few minor touchups, superintendent Dave Marlette said everything is good to go.
“The building is basically ready for school,” he told the school board during last week’s meeting. “As far as the total project, I’m very happy with it. It’s been a struggle, it’s been a lot of work, but it’s really going to pay off for our district.”
The bulk of the project was to replace the HVAC system to address mold and moisture problems that have commonly occurred during summer months in recent years. The new induction air system makes use of the boilers that weren’t a good fit in the high school’s system.
The improvements also include a new roof over much of the building, and a wall was knocked out of the cafeteria in order to create more space in the lunch room.
One of the other primary parts of the project was to relocate all the different offices in the building into one centralized location near the main entrance. Those changes were made with both convenience and security in mind.
“It’s going to be a lot easier for parents, because everyone is centrally located now,” School Board Member Jennifer Janikula said. “You don’t have to run around the building to find everybody, and the entry will be secured.”
The project also includes several cosmetic improvements inside the building. As part of an asbestos removal project several years ago, the flooring was completely torn out of parts of the building, leaving bare, concrete floors in a dismal setting for much of last school year. Those floors have now been replaced, along with repairs to the ceilings and walls, as related to that original asbestos removal project. New lighting was also installed in many parts of the building.
“It looks great,” said School Board Member Chad Koehler, who got to tour the building along with other members of the board prior to last week’s meeting. “There’s more light, the kids are going to have clean air, and the lunch room is amazing now.”
The major aim of the project was to make the building serviceable for at least the next 15 to 20 years. Marlette wants the building to last at least until the current bond for the elementary and high schools projects come off the tax rolls. There have also been some discussions of moving first graders into the Primary School building, possibly within the next few years in order to relieve growing congestion at the Elementary School.
“(The primary school) is going to meet the needs of exactly what we talked about,” Marlette said. “It’s going to give us 15 to 20 years of use and allow us to pay off that big bond, and put this district in a position at that time to make a decision where to go down the road. It’s really going to serve this district well.”
Marlette said the project is slightly under budget at this point, leaving hope that there would be enough money to repair the parking lot. At the very least, Marlette said he thought there would be enough money to repair upper portion of the parking lot, where most of the traffic is located.