Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District moving forward with facility projects

WINFIELD — After failing to pass a $4.75 million general obligation bond in April, the Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District is moving forward with their facility updates and projects on their school buildings. The district is now intending to fund a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as renovations to an industrial technology building through their Secure and Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) revenue bond, formerly known as the penny tax, which generates about $2.34 million for the district, as well as their Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL), which amounts to $1.5 million.

District Superintendent Jeff Maeder says that the two projects are the first phase of a multiyear, three phase facilities plan. The necessity of installing a new HVAC system has prompted the district to designate funding through existing revenue bonds. Maeder further explained that the passage of the bond referendums would have allowed the district to “finance the whole scope” of the district’s facilities projects, rather than in separate phases. The superintendent noted that funding the facilities plan as one project is “much more efficient and cost effective,” but added that doing it in phases also has benefits, as it minimizes how many people the district displaces at any one time.

“We’re not ruling out another bond referendum in the next couple years,” Maeder added.

Currently, the district has already awarded bids for the HVAC system with Tri-City Electric Co., Brockway Mechanical & Roofing and Meyers Construction that total $2.5 million.

Maeder stated construction will hopefully begin in April, following the heating season. The first stage of construction will be tearing out the old boilers the school has used for over 30 years.

“The HVAC system will improve air quality and efficiency for the district. We struggle sometimes with an older building with efficiencies and a little bit with ventilation. The new system just improves that, and when the environment is comfortable, learning is impacted, I believe,” Maeder said about how the project will improve both the school building itself and the learning environment for students.

“We’re just excited that we’re going to get [the HVAC system] done ... and we’re looking forward to having a much more efficient building,” Maeder added.

As for renovations to the industrial technology building, the district is looking to solicit bids in the May to June time frame, for work to be done over the summer and be ready come start of the next school year.

The building, which sits about half a block from the main school building, will provide more space for various industrial technology classes, including welding and carpentry, that students have an option of taking. Currently, the building is empty, which allows the district a blank canvas in terms of designing and determining what the learning space should include. The current school building has a designated space for those classes but is “very cramped and crowded,” according to Maeder. The new building gives students more space to work and easier accessibility in terms of transporting larger projects in and out of the building. The district still is determining how best to arrange the learning space.

“We have a top-notch welding program and carpentry program ... and once a year students are doing construction projects where they’re make these mini structures, so this new area is going to allow us to do that much more effectively,” Maeder said, giving an example of how students will benefit from the new space.