Friday, September 25, 2020
The new playground will be accessible to all students at Bangor Elementary with wheelchair friendly equipment. Herald photos by Nicole Vik.The library at Bangor Elementary School is getting a much-needed update that is expected to be complete before school starts Sept. 3.

Bangor Elementary receives some much-needed updates

Exciting things are happening at Bangor Elementary School and come Sept. 3, things will look much different for students as they start a new school year.

When the kiddos resume classes early next month, they will have a newly remodeled library and a brand new playground to use.

According to Superintendent Dave Laehn, the district’s Building and Grounds Committee had been discussing the possibility of doing some updates at the school for a couple years as well as how the projects would be funded.

“The conversation really centered around how can we update and expand some of the facilities,” Laehn said. “One of the priorities when we started looking at that was our library.”

The original part of the elementary school, which houses the library, was built in 1967 and an addition to the building was put on in 2007, which included the main entrance and administration offices.

 “We’ve put together a five-year maintenance plan where we lay out what we’re going to do. Some of the projects are smaller up to looking at renovating rooms and all of that,” Laehn said. “We also created Fund 46, which allows you to put money away for projects in the future that are more costly.”

According to Laehn, the total project cost for the elementary library expansion was roughly $75,000.

“We thought that was very reasonable and I was pleasantly surprised when the bids came back,” he added.

The library has been under construction since mid July, getting a much needed and overdue update. Kids enrolled in summer school got a sneak peak of the project as crews from Brickl Bros., Inc. out of West Salem began demolition.

Before the school expanded in 2007, the library had numerous windows as it was at the exterior of the building. After the addition, the space lost the windows and appeared more closed in and slightly drab, according to Laehn.

The district decided to expand the library by utilizing a space next to the library, which was used as an extra classroom and storage. Crews knocked down the adjoining wall to make the room bigger and added a main entrance to the library.

They’ve also changed the lighting and added a skylight to bring in more natural light and brighten up the space. New cabinetry and new furniture will also be added.

A hallway, which runs along side the library, will also get a facelift with new flooring, new walls, new paint, new lighting and a new entrance into the library. 

“We’re super excited. Our librarian says she’s excited because now she’ll have room for more books,” Laehn joked. “And that’s what a library should be…more books.”

 There may be a few cosmetic things left, but the majority of the project is expected to be completed before school starts in September.

The district has also updated cubbies in the old portion of the elementary school to match the cubbies in the new portion of the school, adding a bit of cohesion.

“Before we had the old wooden ones and we wanted to match the new section,” Laehn said. “It just brightened everything up.”

As part of the recent updates, administrators wanted to build a new playground at the elementary that would be accessible to kids in wheelchairs.

“The equipment we had was just outdated. It wasn’t that it wasn’t safe it was just past its prime,” Laehn explained. “The big factor was that it wasn’t handicap accessible; if we had a child that was in a wheelchair they couldn’t get out there.” 

The equipment has already been installed and within the next week or so, cement will be laid right up to the entrance of the playground ramp. Crews will also install a permeable padding throughout the playground area so children in wheelchairs or walkers can move throughout the entire playground. 

Former Principal Jac Lyga and Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Mike Stange, worked with Lee Recreation, LLC out of Cambridge to create a custom playground layout for Bangor Elementary students based on the district needs and space.

The total project cost for the new playground was $200,000 with $125,000 coming from district funds and $75,000 coming from special education funds.

“It is unbelievable how expensive playground equipment is,” Laehn said. “Without that special education money I don’t know that we would have been able to do put in a new playground but now it’s accessible to all kids, which is so cool.”

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