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The future of the high school

Plans are in the works to fix the high school over next several years

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Throughout the past year, the school board has turned their focus to the high school and what needs to be changed. After a long evaluation, the school board saw everything entailed with the needs for the high school in an assessment created by contractor Scott Smith.

The main purpose of the assessment is to “maintain, throughout its expected useful life, the interior and exterior of the school facilities, the grounds and roadways, the sports facilities, all fixed and movable equipment, and the physical plants through renovations and a incorporated preventive maintenance program,” as stated in the needs assessment.

In order to provide for the main purpose, the assessment highlights an inventory of all facilities, contents and equipment and the current life expectancy of the used facilities, contents and equipment.

Within the document, the factors that play into the needs assessment are shown. Factors such as building use, building equipment and design, building codes, technology advances, conditions of existing school buildings and service standards. Each of the factors stated plays into finding “a cost-effective maintenance and capital improvement program that meets the needs of today’s educational environment.”

The school board wants to break up the renovations over time. With this idea in mind, the next step is finding the most cost-effective way to renovate the high school. This includes replacing all of the equipment necessary.

Within the document, each area of the school was photographed. Everyone knew exactly what piece of equipment was being focused on. This includes everything from the shingles on the roof to every door handle in the building.

Every item within the school was given a life expectancy by the manufacturer which shows how long an item should last. However, wear and tear and how well-kept the materials are could make items last longer.

In the assessment, a chart was created showing a description of the item, the year it was put in, the life expectancy of the item from the time it was installed, the remaining life of the item and the estimated cost of replacing it with a new one.

For example, a distribution panel was put into the high school in 1970 and has a 25-year life expectancy. The remaining life of the item is -22 years. This means that said distribution panel should have been replaced 22 years ago. Then it finally says the cost, which would be $8,500, to replace it. There are other items like switchgear, which was placed in the school in the year 2000 and has a lifespan of 30 years and still has 13 years left, obviously meaning the item can still be used.

Having items that don’t need to be replaced will help reduce the price of the high school, making it more reasonable to have renovations. Of the items on the chart, 63.9 percent of them are past their usable point. Included in this are six of the school’s seven drinking fountains, with the one leftover fountain having one year of use left.

The original price, which is a one-to-one replacement, was around $34 million. However, after the assessment showed some items are still useful, this can help reduce the price by millions of dollars.

A lot of the items that need to be changed are involved in the electrical system which plays into how the high school is renovated. There are multiple distribution panels that need to be replaced as they all should’ve been 22 years ago. There are also items like an F/A main panel that only has three years left of its life. This would create the need to replace the panel, but may be done later on in the renovation process.

Another factor that could help save money would be updating the school with the latest technology. This could change what exactly is replaced to help conserve energy and update the classrooms.
Even though this information is known, price still plays a major role in how things are done. The high school is a multi-million dollar renovations project and requires a well thought-out plan in order to succeed in finding the best way to fix the high school.

All of these thoughts play into the renovation process and many decisions have yet to be made. With the needs assessment done, the school board has a foundation to start. This is the start to many changes over the next several years.

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Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
The future of the high school