Fort Smith School District discusses potential covid money projects

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FORT SMITH — The school district, students and staff can expect to see more building upgrades by summer 2024.

The school board heard a presentation on Monday about possible facility plans and air quality improvement projects using emergency relief money for elementary and secondary schools.

ESSER is one of several funds approved by Congress in March 2020 for schools to address the impact of covid-19. It’s separate from the $120 million for building improvements the district raised through a voter-approved mileage increase in 2018.

Shawn Shaffer, district facilities supervisor, said relief money projects include the expansion of the cafeteria at Kimmons Middle School, additional classrooms at Morrison and Ramsey Elementary Schools, office space K-12 for the Fort Smith Virtual Academy and improving air quality throughout the district. – all for around $28 million.

Martin Mahan, Deputy Superintendent, said the projects are all state approved and eligible for covid money because they all contribute to air quality and air renewal.

Shaffer said Kimmons has about 880 students using a cafeteria of about 2,800 square feet. He said the estimated $2 million addition would add 6,000 square feet, 50 tables and 400 seats to the cafeteria.

Shaffer said the Morrison Elementary project would cost $5 million and add about 4,300 square feet for 10 classrooms to the northwest corner of the building. He said classrooms would make room for some students to leave Trusty Elementary School.

“Currently at Morrison we have approximately 53,000 square feet and Trusty has approximately 38,000 square feet. Current enrollment at Morrison is approximately 246 students and enrollment at Trusty is 260. The common area at Morrison is able to handle the additional Trusty students. . And when I talk about common areas, media center, music, physical education and cafeteria,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer said the approximately $1 million addition to the Ramsey Classroom will add 4,700 square feet for four classrooms. He said that would allow the district to consider removing portable classrooms, depending on the future size of the student population.

For the Virtual Academy, Shaffer explained that these teachers are distributed across district buildings. He said he’s looking at the district’s new Peak Innovation Center to see if there’s room to bring K-8 teachers together online.

Shaffer said the project is estimated at $1.2 million, with design plans still being worked on. The district does not want to over-build or under-build on this project, he said.

“That would be the southwest area of ​​the facility. We know the office space, but we’re still trying to figure out what this program needs. Test center, collaboration room, different things like that. We’re not so not really sure just yet.”

He said he was working with Gary Udouj, the district’s director of professional education and innovation, to determine that.

Shaffer said the air quality projects are expected to cost between $16 million and $19 million and include new ways to dilute, filter and sanitize the air. He said it will be a thorough process to determine everything the district needs to do, but they will look to fix the oldest equipment and the campuses with the most students first.

Shaffer said Darby and Cook schools are not included because the mileage project solved 90-95% of the air problems there, and Trusty is not included because it will be solved by the addition of Morrison . The district has three years to complete the projects, which began in July, he said.

“So yes, we will move aggressively on those projects to meet that deadline,” he said.

Superintendent Terry Morawski said the presentation was simply to highlight current developments and not seek school board approval, although he said that would be coming soon.

“We know the supply chain. We also know the costs and what’s going on with the materials,” he said. “So it’s possible that we have to prioritize some of them and not get to the full list, at least with these funds. But it’s work that needs to be done. You can see the age of some equipment over 20 years there. So it’s very interesting for us, but there’s a reality to doing construction work right now that we’re realizing.”

Ashley Nobles teaches her eighth grade math class Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at Ramsey Middle School in Fort Smith. The school is one of several schools in the district that could see facility expansions and air quality improvements with funds received through Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance. Visit nwaonline.com/220130Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Photo Ashley Nobles teaches her eighth grade math class Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at Ramsey Middle School in Fort Smith. The school is one of several schools in the district that could see facility expansions and air quality improvements with funds received through Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance. Visit nwaonline.com/220130Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Photo Ashley Nobles teaches her eighth grade math class Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at Ramsey Middle School in Fort Smith. The school is one of several schools in the district that could see facility expansions and air quality improvements with funds received through Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance. Visit nwaonline.com/220130Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Photo Ashley Nobles teaches her eighth grade math class Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at Ramsey Middle School in Fort Smith. The school is one of several schools in the district that could see facility expansions and air quality improvements with funds received through Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Assistance. Visit nwaonline.com/220130Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
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