Work crews getting schools ready for students

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
The Rowan-Salisbury School System is wrapping up several maintenance projects before school starts.
An addition to the cafeteria at West Rowan Middle School has the highest price tag ó about $700,000.
Workers are adding almost 4,000 square feet of space to the cafeteria, said Gene Miller, assistant superintendent of operations.
“That will more than double the size of the facility there,” Miller said.
The cafeteria could seat 180 students in the existing space, he said. Now the cafeteria will seat 324.
Due to limited dining space last school year, West Rowan Middle served lunch during a three-hour span, assistant principal Greg Ball said.
“It will cut down on that considerably,” he said of the addition.
Ball said the school had outgrown its cafeteria. About 785 students were enrolled there last school year.
“It just wasn’t big enough for a school that size,” he said.
Spending less time in the cafeteria means schools can devote more time to classroom instruction, Miller said.
Another big maintenance project is a new track at South Rowan High School. The $230,000 track should be finished by mid-August, Miller said.
That project is the second most expensive for the school system this summer, he said.
At Salisbury High, students will return to an air-conditioned building.
During the last few days of the school year, the air conditioner in the old part of the building was on the fritz, Miller said.
“It had been having problems off and on for several years,” he said.
The school system spent $140,000 on a new air conditioner unit.
Maintenance workers are paving the parking lots at Hurley, Morgan and Rockwell elementary schools, as well as China Grove Middle and West Rowan High School.
The paving projects cost a total of $150,000, Miller said.
Many other school systems have to buy mobile units to add extra classroom space. But Rowan-Salisbury schools haven’t faced the kind of growth of some other systems.
No mobile units will be added in the upcoming school year, Miller said. But two mobile units will be moved from Rockwell Elementary to Koontz Elementary.
Miller said he’s working on a project to put surveillance cameras in every high school in the next two years or so.
In August, six more cameras will be added outside Jesse Carson High, the school system’s newest high school.
“All the new high schools and middle schools will have cameras in them,” Miller said. “It’s just part of what you do now.”
But older schools don’t have cameras. The school system accepted bids from companies to install cameras at Salisbury High and Knox Middle, but the bids were too high, he said.
The system will put the project out for bids again, Miller said.
While Miller wants cameras at every high school ó and eventually every middle school ó he wants to start with Salisbury High and Knox.
“We think we need some more security there,” he said.
Miller said Knox Middle sustained more vandalism than any other school in the system the last several years.
The school system will pay up to $175,000 to install 60 to 70 indoor and outdoor cameras at Knox, Miller said.
The system will pay about $100,000 to install 60 cameras at Salisbury High.
Miller said cameras can help school administrators deal with disruptions, like hallway fights and vandalism.
“It helps you to see what actually happened,” he said.
Here are some other summer maintenance projects:
– New bleachers at North Rowan High and Knox Middle.
– Upgrades to some classrooms at Corriher-Lipe Middle for seventh-grade classes.
– New air conditioner for some classrooms at China Grove Elementary.
– New carpet and tiles at several schools.
– New storm drainage system at Salisbury High football field.
– Updates to the wastewater treatment plant at Hurley Elementary.