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Murray Journal

Murray Schools, District Buildings Upgraded During Summer Months

Sep 14, 2015 11:44AM ● By Bryan Scott

The new Murray School District buildings will be completed and in use by the end of the school year. Photo courtesy of Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

Construction crews were busy in Murray schools this summer as two elementaries were updated with seismic retrofitting, a junior high was updated with a new gymnasium floor and remodeling of its band room, and construction is nearing completion on three district buildings, all in addition to Hillcrest Junior High being completed.

As part of the $33 million bond Murray taxpayers passed in 2012, $4 million was earmarked for seismic retrofitting in school buildings. That, coupled with two FEMA grants of $1 million each, enabled six elementaries to be retrofitted, including McMillan and Parkside this summer, said Rock Boyer, Murray School District support services director.

“They’re a lot safer now and are structurally more sound now that the walls are shored up, so earthquake damage should be greatly reduced,” he said.

In early August, crews were finishing up and expected to be done by mid-month, with just two remaining elementaries, Horizon and Viewmont, left to be retrofitted in the district’s long-range plans.

At Riverview Junior High, a new gymnasium floor was put in after a steam boiler cracked and seeped water into the old floor over the winter break.

“It was gushing pretty hard,” Principal Jim Bouwman said. “I went in to play before the basketball team arrived and in the process, learned how to shut off the water, and with custodians, squeegeed it in time for the team to have practice.”

Bouwman said that through insurance funds, the school now has upgraded hardwood that was climatized to the gymnasium before installation. The floor should be completed by mid-month.

Boyer said it was lucky Bouwman arrived when he did.

“He caught it and stopped it before the water could have ruined other things in the school,” he said.

The school’s band room also has a new look as the risers were removed, walls painted, improved storage cabinets installed and new carpet, sectioned in squares for easy upkeep, was added.

“The risers dictated the room, so this way, we can better utilize the space. We made use of the storage units at the old Hillcrest Junior High, which were in better shape than ours, so we have shelving for our band instruments instead of having them piled up in the halls or in other rooms,” Bouwman said. 

Also installed was an air conditioning unit from Hillcrest to keep the room cool.

“The students will find it much more user-friendly,” he said, adding that about 100 students participate in the instrumental programs.

Boyer added that the room will be better acoustically with the removal of the risers.

What many students won’t see are the major improvements set for the Murray School District office, information technology department, busing and warehouse services. Three new red brick buildings are underway at the corner of Vine Street and Commerce Drive.

A 18,500-square-foot busing garage will be home for the school bus fleet and will be completed this month. The 9,800-square-foot information technology department and warehouse will be completed mid-September and the new district office, with 22,500 square feet, will be done this school year.

“We looked a while back and saw the land available and thought it would be advantageous if all the services were located together, and it would enhance what the district is able to do,” former Superintendent Richard Tranter said.

Boyer said that all three buildings are budgeted to build at a cost of $9 million, with $7 million in a release revenue bond and $2 million in capitol savings.

The maintenance and bus garage will not only house all 22 busses in a gated area, but will also have room for washing, repairing and maintenance of the buses and district trucks. 

The information technology center will house administrative offices and technicians who can update and prepare computers for classrooms and labs and keep its land server secure. Within the building will be a walk-in refrigerator and freezer and dry food storage space for food services.

The final building to be completed will be a two-story school district office, which will continue to house the superintendent’s office, the business administrator’s office, student services, curriculum department, support services department and others who serve the district.

“There will be a bigger school board meeting room, which can be split into two separate rooms for trainings and conferences,” Boyer said. “It really will be beneficial to have all three buildings on the same block.”