Bloomfield is nearly one-third of the way to having a new school — all without having to pass a bond issue.
The district opened its doors last Wednesday afternoon to the public to show stakeholders firsthand how they are working to drastically improve the learning environment without having to build a new school.
Over the summer the district remodeled the third floor of the 1925 building, finished an HVAC project and fixed the roofs. And there are plans to finish the rest next year, making the school new from the inside out, which will be less than 25 percent of what a new school would cost the taxpayers.
And that, Superintendent Shane Alexander said, is the key: Efficient spending to improve education.
“Our board decided it wanted to make the biggest impact that it could the first year, which was the third floor. It’s sciences,English, SPED, library. Those have the biggest impacts on our learning, so we started there,” Alexander said.
The project’s bid was $781,000. How was the remodel possible? Longterm planning and strategic decisions, according to Alexander.
The Board of Education had been putting five or six cents into the building fund annually, with the funds earmarked for this project. Between that — and having an additional $600,000 thanks to having the roofs hailed out — the district was able to complete the project in one summer, along with fix the roofs and add a chiller to finish the HVAC system that had been started several years ago.
“We don’t spend money frivolously,” he said. “We buy trucks and vans and run them to the ground before we get new ones. We fix our buses and don’t buy big fancy buses. We pinch pennies some places, so we can do things like this.”
Bloomfield’s levy is now just 63 cents. Alexander said the low levy makes it possible to include 14 cents in its building fund to ensure next year’s project can move forward.
The third-floor facelift is already boosting academics, according to science teachers Robbin Beckman and Richard Kaiser. Bloomfield now has a state-of-the-art science department with lab stations directly hooked up to gas and water.
“The update has improved efficiency,” Kaiser said. “The kids can take notes and then go right to their experiment. They don’t lose focus and can shift right to that next step.”
Beckman said she often has ﬁ ve labs going on at the same time, but she’s never had the room before to store projects. Now, she said, students can stop midway through the project and continue the next day, which saves valuable learning time.
“The efficiency is tenfold,” she said. “They can pick right up where they left oﬀ that previous day. We couldn’t do that before because we had one drawer for everybody. Now we have enough storage for all of our labs going on.”
The remodel also increased the size of an English classroom and created a modern library with an open concept, which increases safety with the librarian now able to see all occupants at all times.
While Alexander is excited to have the third floor finished, he said the district isn’t resting on its laurels and has plans to renovate the first and second floors next summer.
“The second and first floors will have about the same square footage, so I’m hoping the costs will be about the same. There will be other costs, such as asbestos, but hopefully it will be close,” he said.
If the cost is too high, the district will simply wait another year. But it will happen soon, he promised. Bloomﬁ eld is a growing district with all but one class now with 20-plus students, so Alexander said the district must stay competitive academically.
And Bloomfield isn’t stop-ping there. Once the learning environment is improved, the board hopes to update its practice facility, which resembles more of a dungeon than a gymnasium.
“The board’s vision is to have a difference practice gym. We need ADA compliant locker rooms to host tournaments, so that’s part of the next phase,” he said. “Our priorities are the learning environment, then activities.”