Secure entry, air ionizers among summer improvements planned by Kalamazoo schools

KALAMAZOO, MI — Parents and students should expect to see more construction at Kalamazoo school buildings this summer, funded through the bond issue approved by voters in 2018.

The summer to-do list for Kalamazoo Public Schools includes another $2.4 million in campus improvements, including new school buses, a new secure entryway and remodeling at multiple buildings. The Board of Education approved the purchases at a meeting Thursday, March 25.

Gary Start, deputy superintendent of business and finance, presented the purchases to the board, stressing the importance of taxpayer-funded bonds to pay for district-wide improvements.

“I want to express my appreciation — our appreciation — for the taxpayers of KPS that allow us to keep our equipment and our facilities up to speed,” Start said. “It’s really critical for what we can do for kids.”

Voters passed a $96.7 million bond in 2018 that has since funded multiple construction projects in the district, including improvements in security. During summer 2019, the district constructed secure entrances at eight schools with funding from the bond.

In the future, bond proceeds are also planned to fund construction of a new Edison Environmental Science Academy.

At Thursday’s meeting, the district approved a request to spend $319,939 for a secure vestibule and remodel at Indian Prairie Elementary School. Construction will include installation of a new digital marquee sign, replacing ramps at both portable classrooms and remodeling and main office/front entry to include the secure vestibule, according to the purchase recommendation approved by the board.

The bond will also cover $444,688 for a remodel at Lincoln International Studies School. Plans include replacing damaged plaster in the auditorium, classroom flooring, stair handrails, heating pumps, drinking fountains and installing a new sound system in the auditorium.

Improvements at West Main School Professional Development Center include $246,987 for a new asphalt parking lot and new digital marquee sign.

At Edison Environmental Science Academy, the district will spend $32,775 to remove the existing playground equipment, place it on trailers and stored during construction of the new Edison building. The playground equipment will be reinstalled at the new building.

The school will purchase 11 new school buses, at $92,218 each, and one lift bus for $118,037. This purchase totals $1,132,435, Start said. The district replaces roughly 10% of its bus fleet every year to keep buses operating safely, he said.

The last purchase recommendation approved by the board was funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant. The district will spend $193,450 to purchase and install 135 bipolar ionizer units in school buses. The units are similar to those installed in the buildings to treat air quality.

The system treats the air stream by adding negatively charged ions, which cause very small particles to combine with others, creating larger particles. The technology has been shown to break down viruses and bacteria in the air stream, slowing its spread within minutes, the district said.

Continuous use of the system disinfects both the breathing space and surfaces, the district said.

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