By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg Community Schools officials said summer construction projects are moving along well. But district administrators are crossing their fingers that all work will be completed when classes start Aug. 30.
Superintendent Keevin O’Neill and Assistant Superintendent Steve Goss said through late July, work at numerous locations throughout the district has continued without any major setbacks. They acknowledged construction crews have had to follow an ambitious schedule within a short time frame, but everyone has risen to the occasion.
O’Neill and Goss commended project manager Frederick Construction, architect TowerPinkster and a hard-working team of subcontractors.
“They walk us through everything and it’s so comforting to know that everyone doing the work … I mean, you just can’t help but feel good about it,” Goss said. “They give us unbelievable service, they’re problem-solvers and they’re just amazing.”
The scope of work has been district-wide this year. O’Neill said it started back in the spring at the district’s administrative building. Once the school year concluded, work crews stepped in, literally, on the last day of school at Sunset Lake, Tobey and Indian Lake elementary schools.
In addition, installation of a new track and turf at the high school has been ongoing. O’Neill, in fact, said the district is prepared to modify the varsity football team’s schedule to ensure the field is adequately prepared. In other words, he said, the team could play a number of its early-season games on the road.
The work is being done thanks to a $17.6 million, 20-year millage request district voters approved in May 2020.
Goss provided a breakdown of some of the costs.
$280,532 – partial re-roofing at Tobey and the middle school
$151,214 – interior renovations, painting, floors, ceilings, electrical/lighting/furniture model classrooms at each elementary, the middle school and VHS.
$112,995 – Tennis court repair.
$966,875 – Athletic complex renovation, fencing/concrete repair, asphalt track and synthetic track surface, and field turf.
$513,658 – Administration building masonry repairs, windows and limited interior renovations related to its windows.
$6,477,276 – Mechanical, electrical upgrades, windows, and interior renovations at VHS and all three elementary schools.
Total construction dollars committed to date, Goss said, is $8.5 million.
O’Neill, meanwhile, said bond proceeds are never used to pay for school employee compensation, nor to reimburse the district for any expense.
Goss said the district last performed millage-related work in 2014, when roof work and other behind-the-scenes improvements were made.
“We do view this kind of work as we want to create the best environment for our kids and our staff so they can all do their best,” Goss said. “We’ve been entrusted with the buildings to take care of them and that means we have to put money into them.”
O’Neill followed up.
“There were some tough conversations about whether to proceed with the election last year, right in the middle of COVID, but I’m glad we went ahead with it,” he said. “The needs were not going to go away and, as many homeowners know, problems just escalate over time, so I think we did the right thing. We want that curb appeal, we want to be attractive, and our community and our kids deserve nice facilities.”
Vicksburg Community Schools has about 2,700 students.
By Jef Rietsma