(Bedford) -- Finishing touches remain for a big improvement to Bedford's K-12 facility.
Work began in the spring of 2015 on the district's heating and air conditioning project. After a year-and-a-half of construction work, Bedford School Superintendent Joe Drake tells KMA News most of the new HVAC system should be ready in time for the opening of the 2016-'17 school year August 23rd.
"Contractors worked throughout the school year," said Drake, "by moving our teachers and students from classroom to classroom. We worked on three classrooms, finished those up, then moved on to the next three, then got through the middle school and high school.
"This summer, we've been focusing on the elementary, and finishing up things in the middle school and high school. Even though it's getting close to the time--teachers will be here on the 19th and students on the 23rd--we're getting close to finishing the project," he said.
Voters approved a physical plant and equipment levy in September of 2014 to cover half of the HVAC system's cost, estimated at up to $3.3 million. Proceeds from the district's local option sales tax revenues covered the remaining half. Drake attributes the long construction process to the facility's age.
"We're retrofitting a 1926 building that's never had air conditioning," he said. "So, obviously, that's going to take longer. The 1982 addition at the elementary--it had never had air conditioning. And, the middle school addition we built in the early 2000s was not built with air conditioning in mind."
The HVAC system joins the district's new safe/wrestling room adjacent to the K-12 complex as recent construction projects. Drake says the district is particularly pleased with the safe room.
"The safe room, it was a long project, as well," said Drake. "But, we're occupying that area. It's a beautiful space. It's something I know our coaches and athletes are proud of. Hopefully, people will get a chance to take a look at that facility on the night of open house."
State and federal funding covered 85% of the $800,000 safe room project. Sales tax revenues provided for the remaining 15%. Drake is also superintendent in the Mount Ayr School District, where work on a similar HVAC project, as well as refurbishment of the district's auditorium, are underway. Bedford joins Essex as school districts recently completing climate controlling projects in their K-12 facilities.