The Osceola School district began the 2021-22 school year last week, with the ambient sound of construction still providing the soundtrack throughout campus.
The work is nearly completely though, and progress will be visuable throughout the district as the students fill the halls once again.
“I want to give a big shout out to my custodial staff and the unbelievable amount of work they’ve had to do this summer,” said Bob Schmidt, the director of building and grounds. “They just stepped up and did the job, and we couldn’t have done everything we’ve done this summer without them.”
Some of the major projects that are coming to an end are the secure entrances at both the high school and intermediate school, as well as carpet throughout the district buildings and additional security cameras in the auditoriam and the intermediate school. The new roof at the high school is also almost complete. New boilers are also in place at the high school, and were installed by cutting a hole in the roof and being lowered through with a crane.
One project that’s been delayed is the air conditioning system at the high school.
“There’ve been a number of delays, and it’s been a nationwide issue,” Schmidt said. “Shipping parts and equipment have had big delays.”
He said the parts were ordered on time, but the length of delay was unexpected.
“We ordered them plenty early enough, but everything has been delayed,” he said. “It’s not an Osceola problem, it’s a nationwide problem.”
One of the main projects that’s still on the list to complete is the secure enterance at the middle school. The project was initially designed as an addition to the current strucrure, and the cost was estimated at $1.7 million. However, the district recently explored a renovation option rather than an addition, which brought the price down to around $1 million.
“Bob is really ready to move forward with that,” said district business manager Lynette Edwards. “With the delays and how far out things are going even with our summer projects, if we’re to move forward with that, it’s something we want to get design work on in September and move on from there.”
Work at the grade school is also a concern. Major work is needed there, according to school officials, but the funds allocated to the elementary school through the referendum aren’t sufficient to accomplish what’s necessary.
“We’re not just letting the building go, we’re still maintaining it,” Schmidt said. “We’re just not investing large amounts in the HVAC system and things like that. Not for $2 million. Once you start investing that, (the cost) is going to be a lot more than that.”