PITTSBURG — After several months of renovations at Pittsburg Community Middle School and Pittsburg High School, USD 250 board members toured the changes made at the schools.
The projects were made possible through the $31 million bond voters approved in March.
The bond will create multipurpose rooms, which can serve as storm shelters, another gym and locker room for the middle school, new rooms in the high school including a new kitchen and cafeteria, a new band room and scene shop for the auditorium.
The first phases of the projects which are at or near completion are the heating and air upgrades at the high school, as well as ductwork, restroom renovation and repurposing of offices in the older area of the middle school.
Pittsburg High School
The board members started their tour at PHS with Trane Kansas City Performance Contracting Leader Nathan Whitney and PHS Principal Phil Bressler.
As the group walked down the hallways during the tour, some of the board members said they noticed the difference in the lighting and temperature of the air.
Whitney said the air feels warmer because there is an automatic system which conserves energy after 5 p.m.
“This is something we couldn’t do in the past,” USD 250 Superintendent Destry Brown said to the board.
The school’s corridors feature skylights which let in the sun, along with new LED lighting.
A panel or two down each hallway was removed before the tour which allowed for the board to see the copper piping and other new heating and air installations.
Pointing at the space above a wall which visibly did not go to the top, Brown explained why it was recommended to put sprinklers in the building or build higher walls.
Whitney explained the new LED lighting system for the school in one of the classrooms. The lights have a special switch which can lower the intensity for parts of the room and turn off sections completely.
He said this feature works well with projectors, allowing enough light for writing notes and dark enough up front for the projectors.
LED lights were also installed in the gym, which Whitney said gives more even lighting across the gym floor.
Whitney also explained how the new thermostat system works in the classroom, “it is simple to operate,” he said.
Brown said the teachers are given a range at which to set their classroom’s temperature.
After a board member asked about certain classrooms for which the range may not work, Whitney explained teachers will be able to get permission to set their room to a comfortable temperature and rooms which have issues with temperature will be analyzed through the system — as will the other classrooms — which will determine where improvements can be made.
“Data analytics run all the time and you will be able to see what’s going on and it may determine an issue in the system in advance,” Whitney said.
The last part of the tour included the renovations of the old auto shop room which will be used for students with autism. Later on, the shop doors will be removed and replaced with double doors designed for easy access for students in wheelchairs.
In the technology classroom at the end of the 600 hall is a water source heat pump. The unit, which has a clear casing, will be used in the curriculum in the future.
Pittsburg Community Middle School
Crossland Site Superintendent Wayne Smith led the tour for the middle school, starting in the duct shaft room.
The duct shaft rooms had glass windows which would also be the entrance to the shafts. These were replaced with concrete and the rooms are now up to fire code.
Renovations were also made in the bathrooms near the older part of the building. They now have new acrylic floors, sinks and plumbing.
The board then toured the new computer lab, which used to be counselors’ offices and a partial classroom.
The long, narrow room has computer tables on one side and desks for group work and other workstations on the other end.
Another set of offices were also renovated into an in-school suspension room.
Brown said in the future he would like to see the auditorium fixed up and the stairs repaired at the front of the building facing Broadway.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.