Executive director of business and operations, William Hammond, clarifies the current construction around district buildings.

William Hammond, executive director of business and operations said that additions to Wilroads Gardens, Beeson and Linn Elementary are nearing completion, a project that began after the $85.6 million bond issue was passed in June.

Beeson and Linn Elementary are near complete, and occupancy is expected on Feb. 21. Both buildings received storm protected areas, an addition that every district facility will obtain by next year.

“We basically added storm protected areas and they analyzed at a building level what they needed,” said Hammond. “We’re putting music rooms in there and a special education room in each of them. We’re adding some staff bathrooms and things like that.”

Wilroads Gardens received a new kitchen as well as an unexpected floor.

“They’re now using the kitchen,” said Hammond. “The only thing left in Wilroads Gardens, and this is kind of interesting, is we had a floor that we weren’t quite expecting. The design team did a floor, and we weren’t sure if we liked it or not, but the building has made a determination that they like the floor so it’s going to stay the way it is. It’s got about every color in the rainbow.”

As construction wraps up for these three schools, newer construction sites have popped up at Miler Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Sunnyside Elementary, Soule Elementary and Dodge City High School, leaving many residents curious as to what is being built.

Miller Elementary will receive a new gym and storm protected cafeteria.

“Miller is where we had a ‘gym-cafeteria,’ where we were using the gym also to feed kids at,” said Hammond. “The problem is as you get larger as a school, you really don’t have enough time. It’s hard to serve the breakfast, get it cleaned up and have enough time for P.E., then tear that out and get your lunchroom ready and then so fourth.

“When Miller’s done, it will have a new gymnasium, a new cafeteria and a new kitchen. Plus, it’s going to be a four-section school,“ noted Hammond.

Miller Elementary is estimated to be completed by early 2018.

The construction along Northwest Elementary is where additional storm protected classrooms will go. At Soule Elementary, ground work for an additional two-story building is underway. The two-story building will have storm protected classrooms on the top floor and the functions of the bottom floor have not yet been determined. At Sunnyside Elementary, concrete footings have been placed for three additional storm-protected kindergarten classrooms. The classrooms are estimated to be finished by August, 2017.

The high school will be one of the largest factors of the bond project. The school is expected to receive a new academic wing with 27 classrooms, four career and technical education classrooms, a performing arts small theater and a fitness facility for physical education. Outside work recently began at the high school. 

“We were given directions that the school wanted the addition to the fine arts facility first, so that’s where we’re starting on,” said Hammond. “It’s just beginning, they’re breaking ground and they’re doing some dirt work, doing some footings, things like that.”

The additional facilities at the high school are estimated to be finished by the 2018-2019 school year.

Hammond explained that many people were involved in the planning and execution of this project.

“There’s a lot of players in this, and I think that’s one thing people don’t understand,” Hammond stated. “You take our average project we’re doing, we have an architect, we’ll have a structural engineer, we will have an electrical engineer, we will have a civil engineer and that’s before you get to contractors or anybody else.”

Hammond expressed that this project goes way beyond the physical construction aspect. Before construction began, there was immense amount of planning executed by the staff involved.

“We try to develop a team between the architect, the construction manager at risk, and even the subcontractors so we get the value for the district, and we think we’re doing a pretty good job on that,” said Hammond. “What happens is they get all these documents together and they add plans. People think that you just go out and do this stuff and they don’t understand everything that goes in to preparing it.”

Hammond expressed his gratitude towards his staff and affiliates. 

“We’re very grateful for the price, we’re very grateful for the team between Tom Montgomery at GLMV and Ryan Rowley of Hutton Construction, I’m grateful for my own staff Chris Meyer, James Trombley,” said Hammond. “At this time the projects are pretty much on schedule and on budget and we’re very grateful.”

Projects in the future include renovations and additions to Dodge City Middle and Central Elementary. Both facilities are currently awaiting price quotes from local subcontractors. Pricing will be likely completed for presentation at the next school board meeting on Feb. 27.

“Everything we’re doing here is transparent,” said Hammond. “We’re not doing anything that we’re ashamed of, we’re doing stuff that I think is really going to benefit kids.”