Oakfield-Alabama Central School will finish $6 million dollar project before school starts
Oakfield-Alabama Central School has $6 million to spend on building repairs, new technology and safety measures for its students, thanks to an EXCEL grant they got four years ago.
“The best part is, there is literally no (additional cost) to the taxpayer…” said Christopher Todd, OA superintendent. “We will not go over our $6 million dollar cap – although we plan to get as close as we can.”
First, OA will spruce up the memorial site in the front of the building. A light will illuminate the flag and new greenery will make the site more eye-catching.
Part of the grant money has been dedicated to making the schools more energy efficient, so new heating/AC units were installed in the elementary school. The new units will also be cheaper to maintain if they happen to break or need repairs. “Here at OA, we like to make sure our kids are cool!” joked Todd.
Parents will have no reason to sweat this year when it comes to the safety of the students during school hours. New doors were installed in the lobbies of both the elementary and high schools – doors that will only open if visitors are approved and buzzed in. The offices in both schools have been remodeled to make this an easy process. (Below is the new elementary school office.)
The biggest changes that affect parents of OA students are the drop-off zones for each school. At the elementary drop-off, parents and their children won’t have to avoid the giant puddle of water that seemed to always form directly in front of the school. The drainage system will be repaired before the beginning of the school year. (When this picture was taken, it hadn't rained for about two days.)
The drop-off system at the high school has been improved as well. Since the Department of Transportation mandated that the school move its main entrance, parents have the front of the building all to themselves. That includes the new three-lane roadway that extends across what used to be the school’s front lawn.
“It will be much easier for parents to make quick drop-offs, it will keep traffic off the main road, and they won’t have to interfere with the buses' drop-offs either,” explained Todd.
So where will the buses load and unload their students if they’re no longer at the front of the building? Well, it’s hard to see from the road, but behind the middle school there will be a new circle for buses only. There used to be a small administrative parking lot in that area.
“I told [fellow administrators] they couldn’t complain, because I’m losing my parking spot too!” laughed Todd, “I’ll be parking way out there!” he said gesturing toward the far end of the student parking lot.
Also, another roadway will stem from the new bus circle and head straight back for the football fields to a small handicapped parking lot.
Athletes in OA will benefit from this grant too. The football fields will have new lights, the track will be resurfaced, and ball fields will get new clay and dirt skins called “baseball mix." Plus, a few machines in the fitness center are being leased – they’ll be easier to replace if they happen to break or need repairs.
Physical activity is important to elementary students too, so they’ll be getting a new playground behind the cafeteria. All the pieces have arrived, but the playground itself may not be finished before school begins. All other construction is scheduled to be finished by the time school starts next month.