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Summer improvements coming to North Tama

June 8, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama School District will undergo several renovation projects over the summer to address issues " long overdue" for improvement, according to North Tama Superintendent David Hill.

"We're excited about the improvements that will be taking place over this summer," Hill said. "I know our kids are going to love the condition of their classrooms when they come back in the fall."

The first major project will be to build an ADA-compliant, handicap entrance on south side of the building. New steps will added on to the original 1919 building because old ones are "showing their age"

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"The concrete and curb are not in good shape over there, and the ramp is hand-built out of wood," Hill said. "To have something that truly meets ADA requirements will be a nice additon to our school. We already have accessibility on the north entrance, but we wanted the same for the back of the school. It's a fairly big and fairly expensive project to do to meet requirements and will need to some regrading of the slope."

New painting and flooring will take place in the two music classrooms in addition to new flooring in the FCS room and ICN room where college classes and school board meetings take place..

"The fine arts are very important to at North Tama," Hill said. "Those rooms are very nice sized spaces, but haven't had any flooring improvements in many, many years. This project will spruce them up and make them a more pleasant place to learn."

The final project in terms of facility improvements will be renovating the elementary playground, but Hill points out there is no need to replace the equipment.

"The equipment there is very nice and in good shape, but it's been there for a long time," Hill said. "There are some parts that are getting worn and we will replace them to make them safer. In addition, we will repaint some of those parts."

Elementary Josh Youel will be seeking volunteer help for the installation at the playground over the summer in order to save costs to the district.

Along with the facility projects, the district have purchased one-one iPads for students and staff this year after their four year contract was over. Students were able to buy their previous iPad back from the school, with the rest to be sold back to make up whatever difference possible. The school will use federal REAP dollars to pay for the devices.

"REAP is a program we have used a lot for technology over the years, and we are hearing those dollars are going to limited by the government," Hill said. "That's unfortunate because we've been able to do a lot of good for North Tama, and you have to be able to maintain high levels of good quality technology for education."

The Board of Education last month approved the purchase of one new school bus with air-conditioning and seat belts. Plus, one current route bus will have an air-conditioning unit installed and seat belts. The third route bus already has an AC unit and will also have seat belts installed. All three regular route buses will have these features available for the next school year.

"A lot of schools don't do seat belts, but its good for student safety," Hill said. "The fact is, some of our students spend a pretty good amount of time on the bus because of being a large, rural district. We want to give a level of comfort them. These will also be nice for our baseball and softball teams over this summer for the longer trip too."

According to Hill, the facility projects will cost $140,000 to the district, which will be paid for from their PPEL/SAVE funds, Retrofitting the buses will also cost $18,000

"We are proud of being fiscally responsible here at North Tama," Hill said. "We pay for our school improvements in advance, so we have been building a balance in our Capital Projects funds from our PPEL/SAVE funds for the last few years and now is the time to use them. I'm sure we will do a few more facility projects next year, but not at this year's level. Then, we will use the next several years afterwards to rebuild that account before spending again."

As school finances change with the decrease in state funding, Hill hasn't ruled out the option of asking for a voter-approved PPEL in the future, but states no plans are currently set for such an option.

"If REAP money would completely go away, PPEL money can be used for a lot of technology purchases as well," Hill said. "If one day we do take out a voted PPEL, we would be very upfront and transparent in why we are asking for that. In the end, it would be the voter's decision."



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