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School uses stimulus funds to complete projects

Posted 8/05/09 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

August is here, and that means it’s almost time for students to head back to school. Recent improvements should have students at both schools excited for the first day of school.
Before school gets underway on Aug 27, 2009 the high school will have a new walkway from the parking lot to the football field and new computers throughout the school. And the elementary school will have some new and updated playground equipment.
“The walkway and computers were both made possible through stimulus money,” says Steve Holen, McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 superintendent. “The computers were in the plan for this year and the walkway is something the board has been looking at for the past few years, and with the available funds they decided to take care of it this summer,”
Because technology moves at such a fast pace, computers are considered to be outdated after about five years. It’s important that faculty and students have computers that are in good working order and with up-to-date technology so they can get the most out of the programs available.
“There are 250 computers district-wide,” adds Holen. “Prior to this year, the district purchased 25 to 30 computers each year. It was a good way to spread out the cost, but in the end having so many different computers made computer maintenance very difficult.”
Something that was taken into consideration when selecting computers was the continual struggle to cool computer labs due to the large number of workstations running at one time. With the new computers, each computer lab will be able to run from a single work station. This will use less electricity while making the school heating and cooling system work more efficiently, saving money in the long run.
“When the plan was made to replace computers we didn’t know that stimulus money was coming,” says Holen. “So that was a really nice help to the project.”
The cost of replacing the computers was approximately $135,000, and instead of paying to have the old computers disposed of the district has decided to sell them to students and faculty.
“The computers have been wiped clean and many have been spoken for,” states Holen. “After the students and faculty all have their chance to get a computer we will open up the sale to the rest of the community.”
Unlike the computer project, the football field walkway wasn’t put into motion until knowledge of the stimulus funds.
“The walkway is something that the board has wanted to do for a few years now,” comments Holen. “They wanted to make sure it was done in a way that would allow for future expansion and updates to the football field and since the stimulus money was tagged for infrastructure updates they decided it was a good time to get this project underway.”
The project will replace the rock walkway with a concrete walkway that will go from the football field to the concessions and the grandstands.
“The idea is that once you arrive at the football field the walkway will lead you wherever you need to go,” adds Holen. “It has turned out to be a very nice project and we are excited to see it when it’s finished.”
The $53,000 project is expected to be completed during the first week of August, so it will be ready in plenty of time for the first football game of the season.
Summer maintenance projects weren’t limited to the high school; the elementary school received $15,000 in new playground equipment as the final phase of a two phase project.
“This will complete a $30,000 project that the board previously started,” comments Holen. “The updates were based on what the students used the most, like the tire swings and slide.”
Hopefully, students are excited to get back to school. But if not, maybe the new computers and playground equipment will give them a little incentive.