Interim Superintendent Chuck Kitchell told the school board Monday that the fire alarm at the Middle/High School has been causing major problems. “Towards the end of the school year, there were days where the alarm was going off a couple of times a day, and it wasn’t because they were pulling it and it wasn’t because students were trying to get out of class, it’s just because, for whatever reason, that fire alarm system continues to go off at some inappropriate times,” he said. “During the school day, obviously, is not a good time, but then in the middle of the night, it’s not a good time.”
A significant portion of the system is original to the building. The school board voted Monday to hire Communication Company of South Bend to install a completely new system. Middle/High School Principal Brett Berndt says it will be a big improvement, “They’re all addressable, which means if an alarm goes off, they’d be able to tell exactly which alarm’s going off. As of now, it’s by zones, which can be two-to-three hallways right now. So this would be by smoke detector, which would be huge, and then there’s a line that would go to the local police department, which we don’t have now.”
The project will cost just over $86,000, with that money coming from the corporation’s recent bond refunding. Installation is expected to be completed by August 1.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Kitchell gave school board members an update on another project being undertaken with bond refunding proceeds. He says reconstruction of the high school’s loading dock is expected to begin today. It will include the addition of a ramp, to make deliveries easier, but also to improve accessibility to one of the school’s emergency exits.
Additionally, Kitchell’s looking at fixing a potential safety hazard at the elementary school in the near future. “We are going to have to take some action on the elementary gym floor,” he says. “It continues to separate, and it’s becoming a safety issue for the students in the gym, to the point that I’ve asked [principal Erin] Proskey to make sure the bleachers are pulled out far enough that they cover the section of the floor separated and it’s up and down a little bit. So if a child were to fall there, there’s a gap that may be getting close to a half-inch wide in that one area.”
Kitchell believes the cause of the problem is humidity issues underneath the floor. He says the best option may be to replace the entire old section of the floor, something he estimates will cost $50,000 to $70,000. The school board is expected to discuss the issue at a future meeting.