Burrell School Board solicits bids for projects

Liz Hayes
| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

The Burrell School District will seek bids for three construction projects, including a safer entrance for Stewart Elementary School.

As first presented by Superintendent Shannon Wagner in March, the district intends to make several school entrances more secure.

The plan is to create entrances that allow office staff to see and interact with visitors before letting people into the schools.

Called “mousetraps” by Wagner, the new entrances would be similar to Huston Middle School's main entryway, which requires visitors to pass through two sets of locked doors before they'd be in the school proper.

Stewart Elementary School is the most in need of improvements, Wagner said. The current doors are not visible from the office and visitors can avoid stopping at the office once they are buzzed into the school.

Eckles Architecture and Engineering has proposed a new vestibule that would create an exterior entrance directly into the office. Visitors would be buzzed into the vestibule, where they could interact with staff or be buzzed in again to the office.

The school board on Tuesday night agreed to seek bids for the Stewart entrance project, which has been estimated at $150,000.

The renovations at Bon Air Elementary School would be simpler and will be handled in-house by maintenance staff for a cost estimated at $20,000 or less, according to Wagner and Bruce Coleman, the district's director of nonprofessional services.

That project would involve building interior brick walls and another set of doors at the current entrance.

Wagner advised the board to delay making any changes to the high school entrance to allow for more review and planning.

As originally presented last month, Eckles had suggested building an addition beside the current front entrance to house the high school's offices. The addition would have included a secure entrance requiring visitors to stop at the office.

The addition was estimated at $420,000, plus another $300,000 to renovate the former offices into athletic space.

However, Wagner said the plans for remodeling the existing offices weren't firm and could be costly to create. She didn't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on architectural plans that might have been scrapped anyway.

Board members Ron Slater, Scott Fisher and James Kunkle said they support further review of the high school entrance project before taking action.

Fisher and Kunkle indicated they wanted to be secure, but didn't want the board to make impulsive decisions in knee-jerk reaction to recent events such as those at Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December and Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Wagner noted the high school's front entrance is visible from the office, although visitors could avoid stopping at the office.

Plus, she said security studies that district officials have reviewed indicate Sandy Hook was an anomaly in terms of school shootings because the threat came from outside the building.

She said it is more common that problems arise from students already inside.

The other two projects for which the board agreed to seek contract bids were:

• The replacement of all windows at Stewart at a projected cost of $600,000.

Coleman said the windows are at least 25 years old. They have outdated wooden frames and the glue is deteriorating, he said.

• An estimated $105,000 “facelift” to the high school gymnasium.

Wagner said it will include painting and installing soundproofing along the walls and new basketball hoops.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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