Saline Bond Issue Would Secure Entrance at Pleasant Ridge, Improve Building

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 10/27/2015 - 17:51

Built in 1990, Saline’s Pleasant Ridge Elementary School isn't that old. But at 25 years old, the school is showing its age.

Perhaps no school in the district will be impacted more than Pleasant Ridge by if voters pass the 20-year, $67.5 million proposal in front of voters Nov. 3.

Pleasant Ridge Principal Brad Bezeau said the improvements planned for the neighborhood school are common-sense and practical.

"We're not building a new building here, we're taking care of what we already have," Bezeau said. "This is really a bricks and mortar, nuts and bolts, paint and carpet kind of project. The custodians do a nice job maintaining what have, but we need a little help. That's what we're going to the people for."

The bond proposal would secure the entrance, repair part of a playground, solve drainage issues, update the heating and cooling systems, replace carpets, paint rooms, fix classroom counters, and upgrade classroom technology.

As with the projects in other buildings, the plans at Pleasant Ridge fit the "safe, warm and dry" motto the district has used to market the bond proposal.

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The district plans to secure the entrances in all of its buildings to protect against armed intruders. The biggest changes are planned for Pleasant Ridge, where reconfiguration will cost over $500,000. Today, the main office exists near the center of the building instead of entrance. The plan is to flip the office with the Spanish and art rooms. The entrance would then lead into the office.

Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden stressed that while it's still a concept with many issues to solve.

"Right now somebody walks into the building, and nobody really sees who it is," Graden said. "We're committed to a secure vestibule. So this will become the front of the building, whereas right now the school has two fronts."

There's still talk about how it may be configured. School leaders consider grisly possibilities as talk about alternatives. Bezeau noted that a simple reconfiguration and adding a buzzer or some other kind of entry system won't do much to stop a shooter.

"He'd simply shoot through the glass," Bezeau said, pointing at the interior school doors. "So we're really thinking about ways to make it more secure."

It's not just about keeping shooters from getting in, but getting students outs in a fire or other emergencies.

"You want to be warm and inviting from an education standpoint, but you that's obviously something we have to balance with security now," Graden said.

If the bond proposal is passed work would begin next summer. This, along with the Woodland Meadows bus loop reconfiguration, would be one of the first projects started.

The bond proposal will also upgrade the Pleasant Ridge heating and cooling system. Today, the building is controlled by several heating and cooling systems. All over the building there are little utility rooms heating and cooling units -- one for every two classrooms.

"These are great systems but you can't find parts for these systems anymore," Bezeau said after ducking into one of the utility closets. "We cannibalized Houghton School for parts to keep this moving."

Graden said the heating and cooling improvements would take place in phase one of the project, but perhaps not until the summer of 2017.

The bond proposal would also pay for many improvements in the classroom and hallways. Bezeau points to a classroom counter held together with tape.

"This is basic stuff we're talking about," Bezeau said.

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Several of the changes are outdoors. The deteriorating foamy groundcover under the playscape will be replaced.

"This was never installed property. It really is about safety," Bezeau said. "There are a lot of trip hazards, especially with this gap as you approach the sidewalk."

The district isn't sure what will replace the foam. It could be replaced by new foam. Mulch is also an option, Bezeau said.

Another plan for Pleasant Ridge involves improving the smaller playground behind the school.

"We're trying to get a smaller playground back here for our early childhood special education students, our three and four-year olds and kindergarteners. That playground over there is filled with big equipment. Our goal back here is to get some smaller pieces and components," Bezeau said.

It's not yet been determined if bond dollars will fund the playground. But it will fund site work to repair some drainage issues.

"The first part of bringing any of this to life back here is to excavate that and make it right," Bezeau said.

After that, it could be up to the PTA to make the playground happen.

There's also a technology element at Pleasant Ridge, but the school will keep its "bring your own device" policy. Still, there are plans to upgrade technology in the classroom.

Bezeau said the work planned at Pleasant Ridge is a result of conversations with school staff.

"Certainly I had ideas about what I thought Pleasant Ridge needed, but I had conversations with (custodian) Tracy Pratt and our teachers to see what their needs are. They're the ones who make all the great stuff happen here at Pleasant Ridge," Bezeau said.

 

Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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