Two-year middle school upgrade project to be finished in December |

Two-year middle school upgrade project to be finished in December

Nicole Inglis
A globe sits on top of a pile of boxes June 13 that have been moved in a science lab in the new Craig Middle School. Everything has been moved in, and the south wing of the school is mostly functional.
Courtesy Photo

When Craig Middle School students return from Christmas break in January, they will step into a completed project.

Last summer, the Moffat County School District and a contractor, the Neenan Co., embarked on a $29.6 million, two-year school upgrade. The last remaining part will be the north side of the middle school, to be completed in December.

“We’re about two-thirds of the way done,” School District Construction Liaison Joel Sheridan said. “Everything is going very well in terms of schedule and budget.”

Last summer, construction of a new middle school and upgrades of Ridgeview and East elementary schools began.

This summer, the transition of Craig Intermediate School into Sandrock Elementary School and the upgrade of Sunset Elementary School will complete the district’s transition from three to four elementary schools.

The middle school is the centerpiece of the new construction.

Only the old gym and auditorium remain since all new classrooms for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were built. New science labs, computer labs, library and rooms for school administration also will help the school function more efficiently.

“Basically, all of the educational facilities have been upgraded,” Sheridan said. “I think we’ve accomplished a lot of upgrades, and that is what we set out to do in the first place.”

Ease of transition

A major focus of the new project was reapportioning grade levels among the schools.

Sheridan said the idea was to reduce the number of transitions for students.

Instead of one central location, preschools are being divided up among the elementary schools.

“That way, kids don’t have to go to preschool then go to kindergarten and have to adjust to a whole new school,” he said. “Studies have shown that kids perform better when you eliminate the transitions.”

The elementary schools used to be for kindergarten through fourth grade, after which students would have to transition into the intermediate school for fifth and sixth grades, before going on to middle school.

The new school system will require only one transition instead of three before students go on to high school.

‘Good project for us’

Sheridan said the project is being built with plenty of room for district growth.

The schools are intended for the current enrollment plus 15 to 20 percent. The middle school will enroll about 520 students next year, however, the school was built to accommodate about 600.

Other upgrades include an overhaul of heating and air systems.

“We’ve significantly improved the clean air component,” Sheridan said. “The heating efficiency, with the new windows and insulation, could allow up to $100,000 per year in energy savings.”

Rick Meserve, Neenan Co. senior project manager, said the update of the heating systems at the elementary schools will benefit students.

“At the end of the day, the schools will be a lot more comfortable for the students,” he said.

The project also included a technological upgrade, including $1.6 million in new cabling, fiber connections, servers, wireless routers and computers.

A new electronic security system will control access to all the schools.

Sheridan and Meserve said they are pleased with the progress of the project so far.

“Overall, MCSD and the Neenan Co. have worked really well together to get the community what it was promised in the bond,” Meserve said.

He said the move into the south end of the middle school was three months ahead of schedule and the elementary schools should be finished with plenty of time for teachers to get settled before the school year begins.

“It’s been a good project for us,” Meserve said. “I would think at the end of the day it’s going to be a centerpiece for the community. It’s a lot more modern, and hopefully it’ll be 40 or 50 years before they have to build again.”

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