As the number of students attending Battle Ground Public Schools has grown, so too has the number and variety of school buildings. Some, like the Tukes Valley campus, are newer. And others, like Glenwood and Laurin, are reaching the end of their 50-year lifespan.
No matter the age of the buildings on Battle Ground's 19 school campuses, the district strives to keep its students safe, warm and dry in aesthetically pleasing buildings that the community can be proud of. But it's also one of the biggest fiscal challenges, especially in years when state education funds are limited. Over the past several years, the district reduced the amount of money allotted to facilities maintenance to cover other priorities.
"The district has a responsibility to take care of the schools the community has entrusted to us," Superintendent Mark Hottowe said. "Our infrastructure functions at a high level. I'm committed to fund facilities at a level that will maintain the infrastructure of our buildings and systems, as well as make progress on the aesthetics of schools and the grounds around them. We want them to be a reflection of the pride of our community in our schools."
Besides upgrades and occasional repairs, there are things the district must do every year to maintain schools. A list of annual maintenance plus some of the upgrades the district has completed in the last two years is listed below.
Major projects recently completed:
Battle Ground High School
One of the top five concerns that came out of last spring's Thoughtexchange survey of the community's perspective is facilities and resources. Battle Ground's board of directors has enlisted a volunteer group of more than 20 community members from across the district to create a long-term strategic plan that will prioritize the remodel and replacement of older buildings and the construction of new schools to meet enrollment growth and the needs of 21st century learning in classrooms.
The group, called the Facilities Improvement Team (FIT), is examining whether there is a need for additional schools and classrooms to meet growing enrollment. FIT members are also using data and information from a Study and Survey conducted by the third-party architectural firm LSW to identify necessary repairs and modifications throughout the district. The LSW Study and Survey also identified buildings that are reaching the end of their lifespans and qualify for state construction assistance, including Glenwood Heights Primary, Laurin Middle School, Pleasant Valley and Prairie.
Systems such as plumbing, electricity and HVAC are a major component of a building's usability. While those systems can be updated on the outside (for example, the district replaced all flushing plumbing fixtures a few years ago with low-flow devices), the pipes, wiring and ducts that run inside the buildings--behind sheetrock and underneath flooring--are often cost prohibitive to replace. "The school district has done a great job maintaining its facilities," said FIT facilitator Dave Halme during a school board presentation in June. At that meeting, the FIT team recommended the school board consider putting a bond on a future ballot. "Some buildings are reaching the end of their life," Halme said.