Bond covers varied needs

There are approximately 500 computers scattered throughout classrooms, offices and labs at Oak Harbor High School.

To make room for the equipment in a school that opened in 1974, officials had to convert classrooms and planning areas to create labs to hold the computers for student use.

Even though the school has a spot for all the computers, there are problems officials have incorporating the equipment in a building designed before such technology was available.

To better incorporate computers in the building, officials are hoping voters will approve a $54 million bond to fund renovation of the high school. That measure, which voters will consider May 16, needs to pass by a 60 percent supermajority.

Bruce Roberts, information systems director for the Oak Harbor School District, said there are several issues that need to be fixed with the computer labs at the high school. The current labs are configured in a way that makes it difficult for teachers to complete lesson plans, there isn’t enough electricity to properly power the computer labs, and the air conditioning wasn’t designed to cool large numbers of computers.

In addition to several computer labs scattered throughout the school, computers are also found in teachers’ classrooms.

Roberts said teachers also have overhead projectors or even a television they use for lesson plans. Because there is often only a couple of outlets in many classrooms, it can be difficult to meet teachers’ power needs.

When voters approved a bond in 1996, the school district started standardizing and updating computer equipment throughout the district. Since that time, the school district has gone from one server with 15 to 20 e-mail accounts to 23 servers and e-mail accounts for most school district employees.

In addition to the additional computers, there are also 750 phone sets within school buildings. That is enough to include one phone in every classroom. There is also a computerized point-of-sale system for the food-service program and security cameras that have been installed at the high school.

The proposed renovation will make it all work better.

“It will make it a lot easier to maintain the equipment and secure it,” Roberts said.

He highlighted the computer lab in the high school’s A-wing. A distribution frame, which connects all of the wing’s computers to the Internet, is set up in the middle of the lab. That presents safety issues if a student would stumble and damage the equipment or get injured.

He said the renovation would see that equipment move away from students.

Roberts said the school district isn’t looking to increase the number of computers at the high school. Installing a new computer lab would require taking classroom space which is already at a premium at the high school.

“We don’t have any more room,” Roberts said, adding that employees are looking at ways to improve how technology is used in schools.

Leaky roof

needs fixing, too

While officials look at better ways to use high technology, they also worry about the low-technology leaky roof.

On a recent visit to a computer lab at the high school’s career and technical wing, several ceiling tiles were removed and several garbage cans were placed in spots to catch leaks.

The flat roof, which has been on the school since it opened in 1974, is prone to leaks.

Bruce Worley, operations director for the school district, said the years of rain and wind has deteriorated the roof.

Workers often have to search the roof to find a leak because the point where water enters a classroom is often different from where the water enters the building.

“Chasing a leak is kind of like trying to herd cats,” Worley said.

If voters approve the bond on May 16, then the school district would look at putting a sloped roof on the high school. Worley didn’t have an exact dollar amount on the cost of replacing the high school roof, but said the recently-completed Clover Valley Elementary School roof cost the school district approximately $300,000.

The roof isn’t the only worn out item at the high school. The original heating and electrical systems are still in operation at the school.

Because the equipment is so old, the school district is having trouble finding replacement parts and often has to have them custom made, which can be expensive.

Worley said sloped roofs would create a housing for the HVAC system, which would provide a safer place for maintenance crews to work on the equipment.

He said flat roofs were ideally designed for schools in California, but it turned out it doesn’t work well in the rain-soaked area.

“It was a poor design for the Pacific Northwest,” Worley said.

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