By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - The first phase of projects in the Iron Mountain School District are well under way this year following the approval by voters on Feb. 26, for a $9.5 million bond proposal.
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Zawada Supply and Lumber Co. employee Terry Carter of Niagara, Wis., works on the new stair project at Iron Mountain High School.
Most visible right now is the work on the east entrance to the 102-year-old high school building. This project was moved up into the first phase due to the deteriorating state of the stairs on both the east and west ends of the building, said Supt. Tom Jayne.
"We decided to move ahead with this plan and improve the east entryway into the school making it handicapped accessible. Due to the safety factor with the stairs, it was decided to speed up and get this project going. The walls are being poured this week for the new entry way and the stairs will be done next. It's expected that they will be done by the second week in October," he added.
Other projects this year have been less visible, Jayne said, involving technology improvements throughout the district.
The staff has received new IMAC laptops and iPads this year so they can do school-related work 24/7. This has enabled the staff to set up teacher websites on the school district homepage that provide the daily and weekly lesson plans for students and parents.
"One challenge we've run into is making the switch to all MACs and additional training is needed. Some of the changes have been hard for the staff to grasp, so we've had some growing pains. The technology department is continuing to provide additional training to the staff," Jayne said.
The entire district is also now WiFi accessible as part of the first phase. New student computers and labs are at both elementary buildings - grades K-3 at North and grades 4-6 at East.
"It's been a 100 percent upgrade in our technology throughout the district," Jayne added.
Students in the Iron Mountain School District have been bringing their own devices to school for the past three years.
"We haven't had any issues with this and our kids have followed the rules. The devices are used when the teachers allow them to - for educational purposes only," he said.
With the movement of the students from Central to East Elementary, new student lockers were installed during the summer at East - the first time the building has had lockers.
A new voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone system was also installed during the summer months and has already cut down the phone bill by 70 percent, Jayne said.
"This has added to the efficiency of the phone system was well as an important safety enhancement for the district. Since it's over the internet, it allows 911 identification in all the classrooms if a call is made out in an emergency situation," he said.
In the areas of energy improvements, Jayne noted that new boilers have been put in at North Elementary School and new lights in the gym at East Elementary School.
"We are currently refining the building plans and drawing for the work that will be bid out in February and May 2014. We will continue to be focusing on our three main areas - warm, safe and dry - in the next two phases of projects with the bond money," he said.
The new phase begins in the spring of 2014 and will be completed by August-September 2014. The final and third phase of projects will be completed by the end of the summer in 2015.
"In the second phase, we will have major renovations going on to the remaining buildings, heating, lighting and security systems in place in all buildings; and a reconfiguration of the A, B, and C floors in the high school," he said.
The school office, including Jayne's office, will be moved to B floor at the high school during this phase.
He said having his office in that location will add another administrator to the building. Some of the classrooms at the high school will be made larger with this project and additional bathrooms will be added to C floor.
"We will be looking at possibly replacing windows and the heating system at East Elementary School and replacement of roofs throughout the district," he said.
Jayne added that in order to get into the school buildings, there will be a buzz-in system in place and new security cameras to increase the safety and security in the school district.
And in the final phase, the high school locker rooms and administration building will also be refined with heating, security and upgrades made.
"The bids so far have been coming in under budget. We decided to bid the next two phases out in February and May 2014 so we know for sure how much money we have left and can plan accordingly," Jayne said.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.