Standing the hallway of Moundridge Elementary School amid uncovered floors, lights hanging from a ceiling missing most of its tiles, Moundridge superintendent George Leary exudes confidence and excitement.
"We will have our building back," Leary said. "We get this back Aug. 16. ... There is no doubt, we will be ready. We are on schedule and ahead of schedule."
On any given day, there are dozens of workers in the building installing new flooring, lighting, ceilings and whatever else needs to be done.
The first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 28.
Leary is excited, openly telling people that this summer is the busiest he has ever been and the happiest he has been in a long time. Ask about the work being done to the school buildings, and he can pull out books several inches thick and talk about the specs. He can show a sample of the new insulation and roofing materials.
He can't hold back his excitement.
"Things are great, we are doing $14.8 million worth of stuff," Leary said.
Earlier this year nearly 64 percent of voters supported a $14.59 million bond issue for renovations and upgrades to the elementary school and to the middle school/high school, including the construction of a new auxiliary gym/storm shelter. The improvements will enhance security, energy efficiency, storm safety, and accessibility. Most of the bond issue will be spent at the middle school/high school.
"Our roof project came in $360,000 under budget, that is cool," Leary said.
Also on tap are new windows, wall coverings and what Leary calls the "building envelope" — the roof, walls and windows.
"We think we will save about 20 percent on our utility costs," Leary said. "Energy efficiency is going to go I would say through the roof, but that is not the right term."
Work at the junior/senior high school this summer has included roofing. Another project will be happening during the school year.
"The storm shelter and auxiliary gym can happen during the year without affecting kids," Leary said.
Classrooms will be renovated in stages, with classes having to move for a couple of weeks at a time.
"Our focus is to inconvenience kids the least," Leary said.
He does know, however, that things will happen during construction.
"I went through two bond issues when I was in Newton," Leary said. "There will be headaches. There will be a day that someone cuts (internet cables) or the fire alarms will go off. We have told our people to be ready. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. They can see what their classrooms will look like."
In addition to renovations in the school buildings, nearly 71 percent of voters backed the plan to spend $295,000 in improvements to Greer Gym. Those are on the schedule for later.
The construction timeline shows all work will be completed by mid-August 2020. Alloy Architecture, of Wichita, and Vogts Construction Co., of Newton, are working on the project.
The nature of the work — much of which is interior — means that the majority of it must be done when kids are not in school, Leary said. The summers of 2019 and 2020 will be a busy time inside the schools, he said.
Before and separate from the election, an anonymous donor gave nearly $1 million to USD 423 and that will finance lighting improvements. That work is happening parallel to the bond issue projects, Leary said.