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DL wraps up summer projects

New security doors at Rossman Elementary were being installed Thursday by Malstrom Electric workers Mark Markey and Brad Malstrom. DL NEWSPAPER/Brian Basham

As students soak up every last bit of summer vacation, school personnel in Detroit Lakes are scrambling to get all the summer construction projects wrapped up before go-time Tuesday.

Roughly $600,000 was invested into the four school buildings over the summer with a hefty, district-wide to-do list.

“One of the gems of the summer is the refinishing of the middle school gym,” said the district’s business manager, Ryan Tangen, who says the 30 year old, heavily-used gym went from having a worn-down tile that was about as soft as cement to a beautiful, hardwood floor.

“It will also now have two full sized competition courts and some seating there,” said Tangen, who says the way it was de-signed before was with one full-sized competition floor and two smaller ones.

“So if they want to do JV games or other tournaments they’ll be able to do two there, so it will take some pressure off the high school as well,” said Tangen, adding that there were safety mats added, and the scoreboards were also moved to the south end of the gym for easier viewing.

Another big difference parents will notice is a slight re-configuration of the Roosevelt-Middle School parking lot that district leaders are hoping makes a big difference in traffic flow.

“Anybody that’s familiar, it had that big bubble in the front,” said Tangen. “We cut that off so there are two lanes.”

That means parents dropping their children off aren’t stuck behind a vehicle that’s stopped in the lane dropping their child off; instead, they can now pull around it and proceed to either park or to the front end of the drop off lane.

The large cement blocks sitting there were also removed and a raised sidewalk put in. Medians were also installed in the parking lot along with a walkway to help section it off.

“And then there will also be two lanes going out as well, because I know people would park along the side of that lane going out and it would make for a really tight situation,” said Tangen, who says while he and Transportation Director Colin Gedrose will be out there the first couple days of school to direct traffic, the new change goes with the natural flow of things.

Tangen also says be-cause of the fact that district leaders know they’ll be going back asking for a referendum again once a new school improvement plan is in place, they are stuck trying to strike a balance between what needs to be done now and what might possibly change in that future plan.

“How much work do you put into buildings that may change?” said Tangen. “And so that’s kind of hanging out there but at the same time we got the message after the last referendum that some of these issues need to move forward… like with the security.”

Security isn’t being enhanced the way school officials want, but they are plugging away at some security pieces.

At Rossman Elementary, a new security en-trance is currently being designed at the front of the building.

A video phone is what visitors to that building will see when they try to enter the building, as they will now pick up the phone linked to the office.

“Unfortunately it isn’t set up as nicely as Roosevelt where it’s right there,” said Tangen. “So this video phone will give you that visual from the desk to that person at the door, and they’ll buzz you in from the office.”

Some 10-15 additional security cameras were also installed in each of the schools — some more than others.

Audio-video systems were also a priority for the schools, as several projectors were added to classrooms, particularly in the high school.

Ninth-graders are a part of the iPad initiative this year, and where there are iPads in the classroom, things like projectors are needed.

“As you add all these devices and technology, there’s going to be a need for the infrastructure that can handle all of the devices,” said Tangen.

There were also a number of maintenance projects happening this summer, including the re-carpeting and re-painting of 10 classrooms in each building within the district.

“What we’re doing is this consistency in rooms throughout all of the buildings,” explained Tangen, who says the idea is to paint three walls a neutral color and the one facing the room’s door an accent color. There are only so many colors those accents will be, chosen from a limited palette.  It’s an idea they got from the Thief River Falls schools.

“Not only does it look uniform, but when a student is transitioning from elementary school into middle school or middle school into high school, there’s that familiarity in building schemes and colors and that helps in the transition,” said Tangen, who says it also helps with paint-touch ups when there aren’t 100 different colors to try to match.

Some exterior projects were also completed, like some fascia and soffits, stoops over doors and a big roofing project at the middle school.

“Which was part of a bonding referendum, but we know the middle school is likely going to be one we’ll use in any plan, so we’re going to try to chip away at things as we can,” said Tangen.

Other smaller projects were also completed, like filling a hole in the Rossman teacher’s parking lot.    

There was also a computer lab added to Rossman, while the existing one was moved to al-low grades to all be grouped together in the same section of the building.

 A popular addition to the high school last year – a water bottle filling station – was also added to each of the other schools.

“It’s a water fountain that you can either drink out of or you can put your bottle on the side of it and fill it,” said Tangen, who says water bottles are allowed in classrooms now, and this was a great way to encourage students to drink more water.

Most of these projects were already completed and ready for students and families to see during the schools’ open houses Thursday night.