New windows, floors and more

Assortment of projects change the look of Ely school campus

SCHOOL BOARD member Tom Omerza checks out the newly installed windows in a classroom in Washington Elementary. Photo by Tom Coombe.

by Tom Coombe -

It’s not a full makeover, but Ely’s school campus looks much different than it did a year ago.
School board members got a closer view Monday, spending much of their monthly study session walking around the school grounds and inside all three buildings to look at a series of changes that have been made.
The construction of a new elementary school playground is most noticeable from the outside and has captured the most public attention, but board members reviewed an assortment of projects - big and small - on a tour with superintendent Kevin Abrahamson.
They gave glowing reviews to the most recently completed project, the installation of new windows in a pair of rooms at Washington Elementary.
More expansive and with a darker tint than the remaining windows in campus buildings, the new windows offer a whole new look to the building and were part of a $110,000 project that included brick work and restoration to part of a building that was once linked with the now-demolished JFK building.
Abrahamson said that more window replacement is on the way.
“Hopefully what we’ll see is if we can do the north side (of the Washington) next summer,” said Abrahamson.
According to Abrahamson, a proposal could go before the board in January.
One of the benefits of the window replacement, school officials said, was more natural light entering the building.
“You don’t even need the lights on,” said Abrahamson. “You have to go over during the day and see the difference in light.”
Board member James Pointer said he was impressed with the project and said simply “the windows look great.”
The board also got a look at two other major projects in the Washington building, including new floors and a revamped computer lab inside the school’s media center.
The new playground has opened to rave reviews, but that project still has some final touch-up, including the installation of pavement that will provide handicap access from the Washington building to the playground.
Some members of the board got their first look inside the Industrial Arts building, which got new carpeting in the band room.
The board also looked at the boiler system as well as the weight room, both located on the lower level of the building.
Inside the Memorial building, the cafeteria has a new look with several new tables, all that came with attached, fold down seating.
The tables have consolidated space and made it more efficient for clean-up, along with providing a newer look to the room.
Board member Heidi Mann said the general public may appreciate the changes when coming to the facility for spaghetti dinners put on by the high schools seniors going to Washington, D.C.
“It will be a lot easier for adults eating and it probably is for the kids too,” said Mann.
Abrahamson showed off new “hydration stations” that were installed on the lower and middle levels of the building as well as inside the gymnasium. The modern-day water fountains make it easier for students to fill water bottles.
The gymnasium got a new $24,000 scoreboard system last fall and a roughly $19,000 sound system this year, with the bulk of the money raised by the Ely Hoop Club and private sponsors.
Abrahamson credited the board with moving forward on a series of projects that have changed and improved the look of the campus.
“We’ve done a lot, lots of things have happened,” he said.