Ozark Middle School Renovation
Suzanne McGowen has been a band teacher at Ozark Middle School for 13 years. While she is always excited for the start of school, this year she was a bit more eager to get back into her classroom and welcome students, thanks to summer renovations.
“I remember the first day I walked into the office at the end of July. I noticed and felt an immediate difference. The lighting is beautiful and easy on the eyes. It was an uplifting moment,” she said. “The flexible learning spaces are ready for students with seating and whiteboards, which makes differentiating instruction so much easier.”
McGowen isn’t the only one excited about the OMS summer renovations. Principal Eric Russell said staff, parents and students alike were pleasantly surprised when they walked through the doors for the first time.
“Staff are excited to come to work and be in a clean environment that is welcoming and fresh. Those positive feelings of their environment transfer to teaching and interactions with kids,” Russell said. “Overall the changes will promote students learning indirectly by changing attitudes and creating an environment that is conducive to the learning process.”
The summer renovations were part of Phase One of the District’s long-range plan, known as Operation Renovate & Innovate. Those updates included the completion of the new roof, new paint in both gymnasiums, new flooring in the practice gym, new paint and carpet in the library, new flooring and fixtures in bathrooms, transitioning to LED lighting and classrooms in the southwest pod updated from floor to ceiling. The halls received a fresh coat of paint and unused lockers were removed for additional flex learning space. Outside, drainage issues near the library were fixed.
Maintenance Foreman Mark Faught said thanks to a busy grounds, maintenance and custodial staff, the majority of those projects — all except reshingling the roof, and installing flooring in the bathrooms, auxiliary gym and library — were completed in-house at a cost of $115,000, not including the roof.
“By keeping most of it in-house, we saved the District a lot of money, which allows us to better serve our students,” Mark Faught said.
Transitioning to LED lighting will also save the District tax dollars. Nearly 300 flat panel LED lights were installed at OMS and Custodial Foreman Dennis Faught said from now on, when old ballasts fail, they will be replaced with the LED light fixtures.
“Every custodian is trained to do that. So eventually all the lights throughout the District will be retrofitted to LED for the same cost as simply replacing the ballast before,” he said. “This is two-fold — these lights are more comfortable and friendly on your eyes, and it will save energy and money.”
Being a nearly 30-year-old building, Dennis Faught said it was great to give OMS new life.
“It created a lot of ownership in that building. It was a team effort and we had other schools sending over help to clean and do our normal summer maintenance while the Middle School building custodians and District maintenance worked on the seventh grade remodel,” Dennis Faught said. “It was the most we’ve ever taken on in a building over the summer in my 19 years. We took years off that building. You go into the classrooms and now they look great — they look new again.”
Mark Faught, who has worked at the District for 25 years, said summers are always a busy time for the maintenance crew. And while there was an intense focus at OMS, it wasn’t at the expense of the other buildings.
“We had a really good, structured plan going into the summer and everyone worked really well as a team,” he said.” I don’t feel like we let any other campuses go to the wayside.”
In fact, crews completed a major roof project at South Elementary, saving the District a considerable amount of money. The building’s roof needed cleaned and sealed — an estimated cost of more than $500,000 if outsourced. District Maintenance Department, however, took on the task, completing the required work for less than $50,000, not including the cost of salaries for labor.
“All departments — grounds, custodians, maintenance — came together as an amazing team to achieve more than what we even hoped for,” said Curtis Chesick, Assistant Superintendent of Operations.
Dennis Faught said he is proud of his team as is looking forward to continuing the collaboration with other departments.
“It was a delicate dance. It took a lot of coordination to get everything done and it was very rewarding,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know that what you’re doing has a direct impact on the quality of education on the student. We knew the impact and knew it was for the better for everyone in that building, and that’s what we’re here for.”