Also summer upgrades at Jackson, Buena Vista

       Jackson Elementary will have air conditioning, a modern kitchen, new carpet and replacement ceiling tiles. Buena Vista will get a bigger and better-situated office/front desk area.
       While not as intensive as the major renovations this summer at two other Westside elementaries (Washington and Bristol), the above improvements will be welcomed by their respective school communities when students return in August.
       Jackson had been outfitted several years ago to allow an air-conditioning hook-up if the district could ever afford the equipment. The buildings bond issue, passed by voters in 2005, made the work possible, according to Mark Ferguson, the project manager for District 11.
       The concept has been understandably popular. Before school let out in late May, Ferguson happily observed that “no one is running me off. They say, 'You're the air- conditioning man. Come on in.'”
       The $198,000 bond-issue expenditure also includes the installation of a restaurant-style kitchen hood and convection oven, which will mean tastier meals for Jackson students, according to Rick Hughes, D-11's director of Food and Nutrition Services. The school will be the first on the Westside to have such cooking equipment, he said. “I'm excited about it because the quality is so much better. The food will be hot, fresh, and cooked faster.”
       The ceiling tiles will fix a situation in which some tiles were losing their integrity, and the carpet is a kind the district has been using for the past five to six years that “stands up 100 percent better than the stuff we used to have,” said Rick Mayhew, a District 11 planner responsible for that part of Jackson's summer improvements.
       Buena Vista is spending $52,000 to move the office to the former kindergarten class in the main building. For people entering the building, that classroom used to be the first thing they saw, while the office was around the corner. “It's a security thing for them (the principal and secretaries) because they couldn't see when people came in,” said Mayhew, who also is overseeing the Buena Vista work.
       The other plus with the move is that the former kindergarten room is twice as big as the old office, allowing more room for administrative services, as well as an 11- by-13-foot conference room (the old office had none). “So it's a neat deal,” Mayhew said.
       Buena Vista can relocate the kindergarten because of extra classroom space that became available last year when District 11 took back two of the school's old cottage buildings that had been leased out in recent years, according to Brenda Smith Barr, the Buena Vista principal.
       The old office area will be used for storage.
       Both schools' projects are due for completion before the start of school Aug. 16.

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