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A lot of summer improvements at DL schools

The Detroit Lakes girls’ swimming team practices in the DLHS swimming pool Thursday afternoon. A section of the pool (the dark blue section of the bottom) was dug out this summer to replace the drain at the bottom of the deep end. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS

Come Sept. 3, visitors who come to Detroit Lakes’ Roosevelt Elementary School during the school day will notice a few changes have taken place.

The installation of a new, secure entrance adjacent to the school office is scheduled to be completed this week, according to Colin Gedrose, supervisor of operations for the school district.

“This is a fantastic addition for our students and families,” said Roosevelt Elementary Principal Renee Kerzman.

The new secure entry system will automatically lock the inner doors of the school’s main entryway at the start of classes each day at 8:20 a.m., and unlock them at the end of the school day, around 3:20 p.m.

This means all visitors to the school while classes are being held will need to be “buzzed in” and come inside the building via the school office; a new door leading directly from the entryway into the office has now been installed.

“Students who are tardy for first period will also need to be ‘buzzed in’ through the front office,” Kerzman cautioned — in other words, no sneaking into class a few minutes late.

The entrance on the north side of the building will also be locked, she added, so all parents will need to pick up their children at the lower entrance area, a policy that was instituted a couple of years ago.

Parents who come early to Roosevelt to pick up their children after school will have to wait outside, or in the main entryway, until the last bell has sounded.

 This not only renders the building more secure during school hours, but also will hopefully reduce traffic congestion around the main entrance at the end of the school day, Kerzman said.

She added that making the Roosevelt building entrance more secure was just the first step; eventually, the plan is to install secured entrances in all school district facilities.

Though the secure entry at Roosevelt is the most visible improvement that has been made to school district facilities this summer, it’s far from the only upgrade that’s occurred since classes adjourned at the end of May, said District Business Manager Nancy Olson.

New tile was installed in both the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms at Roosevelt; the tiling upgrade was similar to a project completed at the high school last summer.

 There were “major sidewalk repairs” completed around both the middle and high school buildings, and the north entrance of the middle school, along Central Street, was made handicap accessible, Olson added.

“The sidewalk at the high school was actually crumbling,” she said.

The middle school also got a new roof this summer, and the brick tuck pointing on some portions of Roosevelt’s roof was replaced as well.

Gedrose said that the roofing upgrade at Roosevelt was done “before it became a major issue,” which is part of the district’s ongoing efforts to keep on top of building maintenance — rather than having to complete roofing upgrades on several facilities at once, they stagger the projects over several years.

There were also two major projects completed at the high school this summer — new, safety code-compliant drains were installed in the pool, and the floor of the main gymnasium was completely refinished.

“We replaced about 40 boards in the floor” that were broken or cracked, Olson said, and the floor “was completely sanded down to the original maple,” Gedrose added.

“That was quite the undertaking, sanding it down to the bare boards,” he said.

Once the floor was completely sanded down to the bare wood, it was re-stained and refinished, and new lines were painted, Olson added

That project took about three weeks to complete from start to finish, said Gedrose.

“The staining looks beautiful,” he added. “The floor looks brand new.”

The biggest undertaking of the summer, however, was undoubtedly the installation of the new pool drains, Olson said.

“We were always under the impression that our drains were compliant,” said DL Superintendent Doug Froke, “and then one of our vendors came in and said that we weren’t.”

After investigating the situation, the school board “went ahead and made the decision to fix these things (drains) now, so there wouldn’t be any question (about compliance).

“Now we have been certified … the pool is right,” Froke added.

“The (Minnesota) Department of Health came in, inspected it and signed off on it,” Gedrose added.

But the process of getting to that point was a lengthy one. The pool, which is used year-round as a practice facility, was closed for approximately six weeks while the project was completed, Gedrose noted.

This was because just draining the pool and removing the concrete around the drains at the bottom wasn’t enough.

Because the bottom of the pool was located below the water table, in order to “dig down into the sand” where the drains were located, the district had to install de-watering equipment to keep the construction area sufficiently dry to complete the project, Gedrose said.

“It took a while for the de-watering to finish,” Olson added.

Froke said that work on the de-watering part of the project “was 24/7 for about three weeks.”

Looking at the pool now, it’s hard to envision how much work went into it, he added.

In addition, new tile was added in the high school cafeteria/commons area, to make it resemble a boardwalk, said Olson.

The district also has plans to add some new lighting in that area as well. “It’s a two-year project,” she added.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

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