A new HVAC system for Whitley North Elementary School, a cafeteria expansion for Oak Grove Elementary School, and a construction delay for the new Whitley County High School Career and Technical Education Building, were three of the major topics discussed by the Whitley County Board of Education during its recent monthly meeting.
The construction delay for the career and technical education building is being done largely because of the difficulty in getting necessary building materials, noted Kevin McCalla, a senior landscape architect with Ross Tarrant Architects.
McCalla noted that pre-fabricated metal building parts and metal roofs are sometimes requiring eight months of lead time or longer.
The board voted to reject the current bids on the project. The new construction schedule calls for new construction bids on the career and technical education building project to be opened on Aug. 4. The bids will be awarded during the board’s regular August meeting.
Construction on the project would then start on Sept. 1 with a Nov. 15, 2022 completion date, compared to the original July 2022 completion date for the project.
“We are really disappointed. We were hoping to have it open this time next year,” said Superintendent John Siler. “In January 2023, we hope to have students in that building taking trade classes.”
Among other things, the building will include two 450 square foot classrooms for the electrical program and the carpentry program in addition to carpentry and electric labs, which will run between 3,000 – 3,500 square feet.
The school board also voted to approve replacement of the HVAC system for Whitley North Elementary School and to expand the cafeteria at Oak Grove Elementary School.
Siler noted that the HVAC system is 27 years old and is original to the building.
The project will also include a drop down ceiling and improved, more energy efficient lighting.
“It would be a much needed upgrade mechanically for the school,” Siler added.
While Oak Grove Elementary School has been expanded multiple times over the years due to enrollment growth, the same can’t be said for the school cafeteria, which has stayed the same.
The new project would add about 1,200 square feet to the cafeteria.
“It is definitely needed,” Siler added.
These projects were among the ones identified in the district facility plan about two years ago when it was last updated. The district facilities plan is something school districts are required to do every four years, and is a wish list of building projects needed in the district with the projects ranked in terms of most urgent need.
“Especially Oak Grove and the HVAC at Whitley North were items we put on the DFP (district facilities plan) when we updated it,” Siler noted.
In other business, the board:
- Approved the 2021-2022 contract for school resource officers. The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department will once again provide three school resource officers for the district. One will be stationed at the middle school, one at the high school, and the third will rotate between the elementary schools. “They are a great resource for our administrators to have,” Siler noted.
- Approved several items related to the school nutrition program. Students will once again receive free breakfast and lunch this upcoming school year.
- Approved the 2021-2022 health service agreement with Family Healthcare. “It allows us to have a nurse in every school,” said Patrick Bowlin, director of pupil personnel. “They were very helpful during Covid.”