EGSD moves forward with security improvements
East Grand School District continues progress on an $8 million school security update with plans to start major construction this summer.
Earlier this year, East Grand was awarded $2.1 million from the Building Excellent Schools Today Grant Program, also known as BEST, and committed to providing $5.9 million in matching funds from the district to improve security and emergency management.
A large portion of the money will be directed toward updating the entrances of Fraser Valley Elementary and East Grand Middle School. Last week, the district presented schematics of the entrances.
“It’s an exciting time because we get to start seeing designs of our entryways,” East Grand Superintendent Frank Reeves said.
The schematics can still be changed, but the district hopes to approve the final design by early January. Construction on the entryways would take place over the summer, leaving just a 10-week window for construction.
“That’s why we want to get done with these drawings so fast,” Reeves said.
Approval in January gives the construction company four to five months to plan the summer construction. The district hopes for the work to be completed by mid-August.
The entryway construction is not the only security improvement East Grand is planning. Other changes include upgrading video and speaker systems, putting in a district-wide mass notification system, installing new door hardware and exterior card-reader access controls, and expanding fire suppression systems.
Reeves said most of these improvements are “low voltage,” meaning they can be done over shorter periods of time when students aren’t in school.
The grant alone does not cover the $8 million safety and security plan. A key component of the grant is the $5.9 million in matching funds the district must provide.
The school board voted in June to use the district’s reserves and funds borrowed through a certificate of participation, also known as a COP, to raise the additional money.
The money borrowed by the district through the COP is paid through general operating funds. Unlike a GO Bond or mill levy override, school districts can approve COP financing without voter approval.
Because of this, a COP is typically used as an interim funding mechanism and districts look to voter-approved GO Bonds or mill levy overrides to cover repayment.
East Grand has not made anything official in regards to a bond, Reeves said, as they continue to consider their options. He pointed out that while the BEST Grant does a lot for security, the district still faces many difficulties.
Reeves said the grant doesn’t address overcrowding at Granby Elementary or the need for better STEM facilities, key parts of the district’s master plan. For a voter bond, the district is considering asking for more than the $4 million anticipated for the COP repayment to help with these other capital projects.
How much that might be is still in consideration. Reeves said the board would make its decision by June.
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