The millage-funded projects that have been under way in the Hamburg school district for the last two years are substantially complete.
The projects were funded by a 4.5-mil tax, which was adopted in May 2019. The millage increase came with the voters’ blessing for the district to issue up to $7.8 million in school improvement bonds. The project budget ultimately settled at $7.4 million.
The improvements were part of a 10-year plan that the district follows to ensure that any future projects would not be hindered by the current renovations. With the 4.5 mil increase, the district’s taxation rate is set at 39.5 mils.
Hamburg School District Superintendent Tracy Streeter said she worked alongside Finance Director John Spradlin to ensure the funds were distributed in such a way that all of the district’s campuses benefitted from the tax. Streeter said she wanted to focus on three key points while planning and executing the improvements.
Streeter said she wanted to be sure there was “something for everyone, safety issues were addressed, and we achieved the expansion and improvement of the buildings that needed it most.”
Streeter, who has been with the district for 27 years, said the process had been in the evaluation stage when she became superintendent. Streeter said Spradlin’s involvement was crucial to utilizing the funds in the most fiscally responsible manner. Spradlin was in charge of the financial portion of the project but had a special perspective due to his responsibility to oversee the buildings on each campus. Streeter explained how the team decided what needed to be done.
“In looking at every campus, we examined the needs, we looked at the accommodations and the work to see what would be most valuable.”
The improvements made upon the buildings were to address the lack of proper space, such as in the case of the high school auditorium.
Streeter said the auditorium had not seen any improvement since it had been built. In its previous state, not all of the students could fit into the auditorium at once, meaning that the students had to go in separate groups for any event in that space.
The improved auditorium, which sports a sound booth, acoustic wall features, and purple seats, doubled its capacity. The stage was extended, and new lighting and speakers were installed. The handicapped accessible ramp that was there previously is no longer the only access point. A user-friendly ramp was built right alongside the front steps, which extend all the way to the edge of the building.
The southern end of the high school campus was renovated as well.
The HUB program, which used to be in a stand-alone building, was brought into the new wing of the school, and new bathrooms were built alongside it. The new art classroom benefitted from the addition of a graphic arts computer lab and a space for a pottery wheel and a kiln.
The football field next to the high school had significant drainage issues that were discovered during the initial steps of renovation. Once the extensive damage was evaluated, Streeter and Spradlin had to make adjustments to the plans to account for the cost that would be accrued in replacing the drainage pipes. Turf was installed in part to prevent further damage or potential problems in the future. A turf room, complete with storage, plumbing and bathrooms, was also added.
Hamburg High School Principal Tim Outlaw said there were logistical issues concerning entrances and the access students had regarding their movement around the campus. Outlaw said he welcomed the renovations despite the delays associated with construction, however, because he recognized the potential value in the changes and the direct effect they would have on his students and faculty.
During a tour of the facility, art teacher Candace Jeffress showed off the art room and adjoining space where the pottery equipment will be stored. The pottery wheel area has a large window with a view of the shaded front lawn of the campus. Jeffress said the school’s intent is to install a barrier around the pottery wheel prior to its delivery and usage, which will prevent the clay from spreading to other parts of the room. The kiln room was built with its own ventilation to the outside.
Noble Elementary saw changes to its campus as well. The Marilyn Chambers building was originally alongside the school but was joined with the new construction, improving the safety of the students by providing more than just a chain link fence separating them from the school’s driveway.
The Chambers building housed the Special Education classroom, and Streeter said it was important to include that classroom with the rest of the school. Although the construction process was lengthy and at times messy, the final result was worth it, she said.
The hallway that was added leads to a newly constructed room that Streeter said she hopes can eventually serve as a sensory room. A small kitchen, a smart board, and plenty of seating and space for any students who might occupy it were included in the new room. A doorway to the Mainline Clinic was placed right next to the new room. Down the main hallway are the bathrooms, which were remodeled because of their age and condition. The purple and gray color scheme keeps school spirit in mind, and the air dryers cut down on paper waste while increasing cleanliness.
The new water fountains also include a water bottle refill station to allow everyone to stay hydrated.
Two other campuses benefitted from the millage. Portland Elementary School saw changes to their campus in the form of a complete reconstruction of the Physical Education area and gymnasium, and a complete overhaul of the bathrooms there as well.
The improvements were necessary because of the age of the facilities and the fact they had never seen any improvements since they had been built.
Hamburg Middle School did not require much renovation, but the bathrooms there were updated to accommodate the students more appropriately.
These projects were completed prior to price increases caused by supply and labor shortages that could have derailed many of the projects Streeter and Spradlin had planned.
Despite working to make sure every penny was utilized in the best way possible, the unexpected costs associated with the damaged drainage system of the old football field and the roof of Noble Elementary prevented certain goals from being met. Streeter and Spradlin had originally planned to construct a new baseball complex, but they realized that had to be placed on hold until more funds could be accumulated.
Streeter said the project, which began in her second year as superintendent, could be viewed as intimidating, but she did not let that stop her.
Assisted by Spradlin and influenced by the voices of the community, she accomplished her goal, she said, which was to “create something the students, parents, faculty and the community could be proud of.”