Norway uses bond cash for upgrades

NORWAY – Construction and technology upgrades are under way at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools.

The school district’s 2013 School Building and Site and Refunding Bonds were sold to make improvements to the school building and its equipment.

Superintendent Lou Steigerwald said improvements include a roof replacement on one-third of the school building; a new brick retaining wall at the entrance/exit of the superintendent’s office; new entrance doors, cameras and an intercom system at all outside doors of the school; new light poles; and a black, vinyl six-foot fence on the elementary playground.

New wiring for the phones and technology and fire alarm system throughout the building have been installed, along with new lighting in the classrooms, offices and hallways.

Steigerwald said this improvement will save the district about 30 percent on lighting costs.

With the new phone system, there is a phone in every classroom, and the district will have better voicemail capability.

“This is good for security purposes,” Steigerwald said.

The district switched to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system shared with the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District, which will save money on phone bills. Included in this upgrade was a link to a new fiber-optic network.

StonHard is the type of new floor on all the bathroom floors. All school bathrooms were painted and will be re-equipped with new toilets, faucets and sinks.

A projector and drop-down screen is being added to the auditorium.

In addition, the chemistry lab is being updated with more storage at individual stations and new faucets.

Teachers have been issued their laptops and iPads.

All students in grade three through 12 will get an iPad4 issued to them. Norway-Vulcan Area Schools is the first school in the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District to put iPads in the hands of students. About 700 iPads were ordered at a cost of approximately $350,000.

Technology coordinator Dale Maahs installed equipment on the iPads that will track how the iPads are being used. Those issued an iPad4 will sign a user agreement prohibiting playing games, shopping and hacking.

The biggest project with the bond monies is the high school gymnasium.

Steigerwald said this project is moving along for completion by the end of August.

The gym has a new floorboard, backboard, scoreboard and updated lighting. Windows were added to the weight room.

Steigerwald said the workout area on the sports deck has been transformed with the center wall removed, flooring added where a gym divider used to stand, and the wall facing the gym has been drywalled.

Bleachers will be installed on both sides of the gym.

The gym lighting is complete, the ceiling and wall paint are done, speakers are installed, and the flooring has begun to be put in place.

“There are now nine speakers versus one where it was hard to hear,” Steigerwald said. “They will start sanding, sealing and painting the floor next month.”

Basemen Floors, Inc. of Marquette is contracted to do the gym remodeling.

The middle school gym will also be sanded and refurbished.

“It’s coming along,” Steigerwald said of the school bond project.

Gundlach Champion of Iron Mountain is the construction manager for the school buildings project.

Trade contractors working on the project also include: general trades by Roy Ness Contracting and Sales of Escanaba, asphalt shingles by The Markell Company of Iron Mountain, aluminum framed entrances, windows and glazing by Northern Michigan Glass of Traverse City, painting by National Coatings, Inc., resinous flooring by Terrazzo Creation & Renewal, gymnasium bleachers by Interkal, LLC., plumbing by Valley Mechanical of Menominee, electrical, communications and safety by Rapid Electric of Escanaba, and cabling and communications by Van Ert Electric Co. of Kingsford.

The school district’s 2013 School Building and Site and Refunding Bonds were sold at a true interest rate of 1.89 percent with a final maturity of 2025 (a repayment term of approximately 12 years).

The 2013 refunding bonds reduce the school district interest expense approximately $173,944 for the taxpayers. This will occur through lower debt payments over the next six years with a final maturity of 2019.

As a result of the favorable bond sale, Norway-Vulcan Area Schools’ property owners are projected to see a reduction in their millage rate of between .20 and .25 mills.

Playground improvements, lighting upgrades and retaining wall modifications total $200,000; building remodeling including re-roofing, HVAC and electrical upgrades, technology infrastructure upgrades, security upgrades and gym remodeling total $1,270,000; and classroom furnishings, new phone system and security system total $550,000.

Construction total is $2,820,000 with a $300,000 construction contingency and $350,000 in fees for a total of $3,470,000.