WCS bond projects continue through summer

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published July 12, 2019

 Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois, left, and Daniel DeRosia, of the Warren-based demolition company Blue Star, look over plans at Siersma Elementary School July 8.

Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois, left, and Daniel DeRosia, of the Warren-based demolition company Blue Star, look over plans at Siersma Elementary School July 8.

Photo by Maria Allard

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WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS/TROY — Although school is out for summer vacation, there is plenty of activity occurring at several Warren Consolidated Schools buildings.

Crews have been at buildings throughout the district working on bond projects that are scheduled to be ready for the 2019-20 school year.

On May 3, 2016, taxpayers approved a $134.5 million bond issue to fund school improvement projects districtwide. The work began that year, and school officials said it will continue until 2021. The bonds were scheduled to be sold in three series in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Under a bond issue, the bonds are sold in the capital markets at a date determined by the district, a financial adviser and an underwriter. Upon closing, funds generated from the bond sale are deposited in the district’s construction fund and available to spend for completion of the projects in the bond proposal. When approved by the voters, a bond issue raises school taxes in the district. The funds are limited in their use to approved projects. Funds may not be spent on school employee salaries or benefits.

The WCS bond focuses on four critical areas: technology ($25.3 million); facility security and safety improvements ($75.1 million); playground and site improvements ($21.2 million); and bus, furniture and equipment replacement ($12.9 million). The bond projects are designed to provide a present-day learning setting for students and maintain strong schools, which, according to school officials, is an investment in the community.

“We’re trying to provide a modern learning setting with technology, updated school security and enhanced security,” WCS Superintendent Robert Livernois said. “We’re improving lots of areas in the district that reduce our utility costs. We’re changing out lighting that doesn’t use as much energy.”

According to Livernois, approximately $21.8 million in projects are being conducted this summer at the following schools: Black, Cromie, Jefferson, Siersma, Susick and Wilde elementary schools; and at Cousino and Warren Mott high schools. Other buildings getting work this summer include the Career Prep Center and the Educational Service Center on Mound Road.

New toilets, flooring, fixtures and paint are just the tip of the iceberg regarding all the updates that schools are receiving. New lighting ready for installation will be more cost effective than in the past, and the schools are receiving updated security.

The following updates also are taking place: the replacement of service doors and hardware, concrete approaches, window treatments, classroom casework, boilers, pipes and valves, and more.

Under the bond issue, buildings are also getting new water bottle filling stations that include water fountains and a place to refill water bottles. Technology updates will include several components, including computer replacements and upgraded audio/video systems. In addition, temperature control systems will be upgraded.

Work at Cousino and Mott this summer includes the replacement of gymnasium lockers, equipment, wall pads, bleachers and wrestling mats. The stage curtain at Cousino will also be replaced. Both schools will undergo replacements of science room eyewash and shower stations, and select doors and hardware. Drinking fountains will be replaced, and there will be football stadium upgrades.

WCS officials are working with several companies on the bond. Plante Moran Cresa is representing the district and the work being done. Clark Construction, based in Auburn Hills, is the construction manager, and Wakely Associates Inc., of Warren, is the architect.

Strategic Energy Solutions, in Berkley, and Kem Tec Land Surveyors, in Eastpointe, are providing their services. Integrated Design Solutions, in Troy, is the technology designer. Spalding DeDecker, in Rochester Hills, is providing engineering expertise. Nova Environmental, in Ann Arbor, is an environmental consultant.

“We have a great team in place,” Livernois said. “We’re very pleased with the whole team. There is a conscientious effort to do things right.”

As owner’s representative, Plante Moran Cresa is working with the team to ensure work is being done on schedule and within budget.

“We really have to oversee the budget, and we help establish the work that is planned to happen,” said Chris Becker, a vice president with Plante Moran Cresa, who has visited several of the buildings under construction this summer. “We’re easily on schedule, and there’s such a positive energy to this bond. We’re very happy with the design team. They continue to be very good to work with.”

Plante Moran Cresa has worked with the district for many years conducting facility assessments and long-term plans. According to Becker, not only are this summer’s projects on schedule, but crews already are looking at projects slated for the summer of 2020.

Livernois said the state fire marshal and also the Bureau of Construction Codes will inspect the buildings before they open for school Sept. 3.

“They’ll come out and inspect the work we’re doing and then provide a certificate of occupancy,” Livernois said. “Anything that has asbestos has to be abated.”

In 2017 and 2018, several projects were completed throughout the district, including athletic fields, playgrounds, boilers, security, network, kitchen, lighting and utility updates.

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