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A year after failed bond vote, Groton contemplating what to do about high school improvements

Aberdeen American News - 7/12/2018

July 12--Groton Area High School needs repairs -- the heating system needs an upgrade, the building is not fully Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, and it's just plain old.

The most mature part of the building has been around for 84 years.

"We haven't talked about it much, pretty much anything that we do would be to a scale probably that would require another vote," said Superintendent Joe Schwan. "We haven't really gone down that road again since the election."

In April 2017, the district asked voters for a $14.5 million bond to tear down and replace the oldest part of the school, which dates back to 1934. It was defeated.

"At some point, that's probably still what's going to need to happen, it's just a matter of finding a sweet spot in a plan that everybody likes at a price tag that everybody can accept," Schwan said.

Just because the bond failed doesn't mean the issues with the school are gone, Schwan said.

"Right now, we're in discussions about fixing or replacing the oldest boiler that we have and stuff like that that's really critical, that's not optional that you just can't do without," he said.

That would be a repair that would take place using capital outlay funds, Schwan said. It would also be something that would last through any remodel.

"It just becomes a question of how much money do you stick into repairing and renovating an old building," he said. "Which is kind of where we started the discussion the first time around."

The district also just completed a $7 million upgrade and renovation at the elementary school, led by JDH Construction of Aberdeen as the general contractor, Schwan said. Most of that was done before the beginning of the school year, with a new kitchen and commons area before Thanksgiving.

"The biggest change was the commons area," he said. "But I would think the thing that people noticed probably was the climate control -- the consistent temperature. The updated (system) and the addition of air conditioning was a huge improvement."

With the addition of big windows, more natural light pours into the building, Schwan said. And the classrooms have been closed off -- the school previously had an open layout, similar to C.C. Lee Elementary School in Aberdeen.

"It makes a huge difference, especially if you happen to be next to a loud teacher. Some teachers are just louder," he said. "So if you got next to one of those, that was kind of a challenge."

The crew that installed the tile kitchen floor -- Grazzini Brothers and Company of Eagan, Minn. -- was making some repairs to broken tiles over the summer, Schwan said.

"That's pretty much the only thing that's hanging out there yet," Schwan said.

Follow @kgrandstrandAAN on Twitter.

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(c)2018 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.)

Visit the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.) at www.aberdeennews.com

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