BERKLEY — Students returning to class this month in the Berkley School District may have noticed a handful of new or updated structures.
The district had several projects underway this summer as part of the sinking fund projects done to the buildings and grounds each summer. The numerous projects cost the district about $250,000, Deputy Superintendent Larry Gallagher said, which came out of the sinking fund millage that was renewed last year.
The biggest projects included installing a new filtration system, as well as lights and baffling, in the Berkley High School pool arena and a new play structure installed at Norup International.
“Our filtration system, we opened and repaired it last year, but we had sand coming into the pool and we were going to just do maintenance again this year,” Custodial and Operations Facilitator Rod Fisher said. “But we decided before we got too far that we should open up the tanks and take a look, and we saw that the inside lining was starting to break, and the metal between the inner and outer lining had started to deteriorate to the point we didn’t feel it was in the district’s best interest to throw money at it and hope we could get through without problems.
“A full-blown replacement was needed,” Fisher said.
Not only was the new filtration system a way to save money on yearly repairs, Gallagher said, but the newer system also helps to save the district money on daily operating costs.
“The motor system was just old, and now the motor keeps track of the chemical balance and the PH balance and the chlorine, but only when the (filtration) system tells it to,” he said. “Not that the old system wasn’t (good), but this is a better way to keep the water clean, and it is efficient. It saves energy as it only runs when it needs to.”
The sinking fund also was used to add mulch around every school playground, as well as replace fencing along several outside spaces. Bleacher upgrades were made at BHS, Norup and Anderson Middle School.
The new playground structure at Norup was found by Principal Paul Yowchaung at a closed Detroit Public Schools elementary building, and after Gallagher put in a call, Berkley was able to buy the rarely used structure for $3,000.
“The building where the structure was at had long been closed and the equipment looked relatively new, and our Norup kids had to walk to Avery (Elementary School) to play outside, so we were looking for a structure just for those kids,” Gallagher said. “We got a really good price on a structure that probably cost $70,000 brand new, and we saved money by having our in-house guys install it. We are always talking about bringing more work that would go to outside contractors in house, so that was great we could do that.”
Fisher said it was sad to take down a structure that some in the neighboring Detroit community still used, but the district felt the structure would get more use at a school.
“We had a crew go down there and dismantle it, take pictures, and then we added some additional things to it that would make it more accessible to everyone, like handicap-accessible ramps,” he said. “It saddened us to take it down as the kids watched, not knowing what was being done, but now it will be used every day by a whole lot more kids, and it is back in a school setting.”
Another improvement was a new sign and scoreboard at Hurley Field for football games and track meets. The new scoreboard not only goes along with several other past upgrades, but it also can help the district bring in more revenue.
“The turf on the field is synthetic and the track had been redone, but the scoreboard was old,” Gallagher said. “It is also a long-term revenue generator, as there are spots for sponsorships and there is a message board where we can run ads as well as give a chance for parents to have personalized messages to their kids.
“Any additional dollars we get from local sponsors will pay back the sinking fund and then be used for the athletic programs in the future.”
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