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Lansing School Capital ProjectTetra Tech's Christopher Glaubitz shows a possible design for a canopy at the elementary school that incorporates Lansing's paw print logo

As work is being completed on the 2018 Safety, Classrooms, and Facilities Improvement Project, Lansing school district residents may feel the capital project book is closing.  But the completion of this project is a chapter, not a book, and school officials are already planning projects to come.  The Board Of Education recently approved a resolution for a new capital project that will go before voters later this year.

"The District is considering undertaking a capital improvement project consisting of additions, renovations and improvements to the District's High School Building, Middle School Building, R.C. Buckley Elementary School Building, Technology Building, Bus Garage, Buildings and Grounds Building, and Former District Office Building, reconstruction of three existing tennis courts and the construction of a new fourth tennis court all located on the R.C. Buckley Elementary School Building campus, reconstruction of the R.C. Buckley Elementary School Building drop off area, all to include site, access, parking and playfield improvements, demolition, utility, mechanical, plumbing and electrical improvements, the acquisition of original furnishings, fixtures and equipment and payment of professional fees and all other necessary costs incidental to such work," the resolution reads.

Since an ambitious $31.2 million dollar capital project with an optional $7.2 million add-on for a high school auditorium didn't fly in 2006 the District has taken a more measured approach to capital improvements.  Prioritizing a long list of needed and desired improvements, the top choices are cobbled together into much smaller projects that have typically meant no additional tax burden.  For example, the current $4.95 project is partially paid for by $1.8 million in cash from a building reserve, and the rest by a 15 year bond.  The district rolls debt over -- in other words, once a debt is paid off the interest that would have been paid for that debt is applied to a new loan.  That does mean taxpayer money is spent, but it keeps the amount as constant as possible.

"Lansing is in a great place as far as the rhythm of capital projects," Tetra Tech's Senior Project Architect Christopher Glaubitz said. "You're doing a capital project every couple of years.  There is zero tax impact and you're getting work done over time. You're showing your community that you can get work done over time."

Glaubitz provided an overview of elements of the project with some conceptual illustrations showing what they might look like.  The new project includes sports and theater facility improvements, The District's focus on safety and security has driven decisions in past projects, and Glaubitz said it would continue to be addressed.

"In the next project we're proposing to make improvements to the high school as well as the elementary school," he said. "Throughout the three educational buildings we're proposing some upgrades to the way classroom doors lock, and also the larger assembly spaces.  At the elementary school some improvements to the parent drop off for after-school pickup.  It's a lot of people going in different directions.  To give it a little more structure and improve safety as vehicles are driving and children are walking through the same area."

The new project includes a few items for non-educational buildings than have been in past projects, including fire alarm improvements, and improvements to gas pumps at the bus garage.  Glaubitz said that aged tennis courts will be replaced, adding an additional court to the facility.  he said the new courts will remain in the same area, and include retaining walls, fencing and new lighting.  He added that temporary repairs to the track at Sobus Field will be made until comprehensive upgrades become affordable in a future project.

"The high school track will receive minor improvements to lane 1, which has had some minor degradation," he said. "That will keep it as a good surface for the next few years until we can address that in future capital projects."

The middle school auditorium is slated for new theatrical lighting, and safety improvements to the lighting catwalk.

In the elementary school the cafeteria will be improved with an eye toward holding all-school assemblies there, instead of the gymnasium, which school officials say is not well suited for that purpose.  Glaubitz said the new cafeteria will accommodate numerous lunch periods as well as the after-school program.  He also noted that cafeteria windows on the front of the school building provide a security risk that will be abated in part by fogging the glass, and partly by adding a large canopy in front of the existing building that will also provide protection from weather as students line up to board school buses.

"We're basically adding a rectangular box onto the front of the Elementary School," he said. "I'm trying to balance what we heard from the District with the need for security and a sense of feeling safe.  One of the issues we're wrestling with is allowing students to be in a cafeteria that's right in the front of your building.  So if somebody drives in and is able to see into that space there is some concern about that.  We're looking at things like translucent glass instead of transparent."

He displayed variations of designs that include the district paw print logo into the canopy.  One showed a blue and yellow paw print embedded into the sidewalk in front of the school, while another showed an upright paw print that students could walk through.

Each capital project also includes repairs and upgrades to necessary utilities.  The new project includes HVAC work in the high school and middle school, foundation and plumbing repairs, and electrical work.

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