The end is in sight for district construction projects, all set for completion in 2012

By Bryan Richardson

Since USD 383’s $97.5 million bond issue for building renovation passed in 2008, the work has created some upheaval across the district. But 2012 is when all of the work and upheaval ends.

Thus far, five elementary school projects have been completed – Ogden, Amanda Arnold, Northview, Lee and Woodrow Wilson. The others are in line to mostly be completed by the fall.

Among the newer projects that have started is Marlatt Elementary, which has additions of a kindergarten wing and gym. The project began during this past summer, and is to be completed during the fall.

Marlatt is undergoing its changes with a new principal, Brett Nelson. Although this is Nelson’s first year as principal, it is his second go-around with construction.

“Last year, I taught at Northview, so I’ve become accustomed to working around construction and the challenges,” he said.

Nelson said construction has been smooth, noting that “all of the teachers, students and parents are excited about the new addition.”

He said the teachers share information such as pictures with students to satisfy their curiosity. “The kids are always walking by and wanting to know what’s going on with all the noises,” he said.

Nelson said the important thing he tries to instill in his faculty and staff is “eye on the prize.” He said the idea seems to be working even during a hectic day.

“They’ll be hammering, jackhammering and making noise out there,” Nelson said. “I’ll look in the classroom and I’ll see teachers teaching and students learning.”

The construction work started outside, but the renovation work has moved inside. Several teachers are using carts to teach in the hallways now that the computer lab and the music, art and special education rooms are being renovated.

Nelson said Marlatt’s project is going very well compared to other schools. An example he gave is Theodore Roosevelt, where the majority of the school is outside in mobile classrooms because the original building is undergoing major renovation.

There also haven’t been issues with the project falling behind schedule like Woodrow Wilson or an accidental flood like Bluemont. “Even though we might be dealing with some noises and things like that, we’re very fortunate,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he is thankful for the taxpayers voting in favor of the bond issue. “Our building was in dire need of these renovations,” he said. “It’s just an exciting time.”

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