Carson Middle School seeks improvements

(This is the next in a series of articles on improvements to Carson City schools under a proposed $18 million bond issue.)

Carson Middle School has seen nearly a half a century of students pass through its halls.

First as the high school, then as the junior high and now as a middle school,

it has served in many different capacities. But it's old and needs work.

"We're spending more money at this site than any other site," said Mike Mitchell, director of operations for the school district.

He said some may think it would be wiser to tear it down and build a new one, but he said the school is still workable.

It would take about $15 million to replace the school, but Mitchell said it can be renovated for close to $4 million.

"If we put the work into it, it will be a really good, functioning school with a lot of life still left in it," he said. "The components are all there."

The Carson City School District is asking voters to approve an $18 million school bond in this year's election to make general improvements throughout the district.

A large chunk of that money will go to Carson Middle School to complete a series of renovations.

"It's time for a major upgrading of its old systems. It's just not worth putting money into these old systems," Mitchell said. "When we put in a new heating system, we want to include air conditioning. But before we put in air conditioning, we want to insulate it."

The uninsulated windows have been replaced and repaired for 45 years.

The gymnasium still houses the original rubber floor which has lost its resilience and also contains harmful chemicals such as mercury.

"We want to put in a floor that, environmentally, is a little safer," Mitchell said. "We'll have to take it to a hazardous waste disposal site when we do take it out."

Gym classes have also changed over the years. Students used to be required to shower as part of their physical education courses but no longer.

"We will take out most of the showers," Mitchell said. "The space is not being effectively utilized. We can use it for storage or something else."

A larger cafeteria is also on the agenda. To accommodate the students at the school, 17 portables have been added to the campus.

It takes four lunch periods to serve all the students.

"That impacts how we schedule our classes," Mitchell said. "The lunch schedule should be built around the class schedule, rather than vice versa."

To improve safety at the site, a fire sprinkler system was installed in 1994. However, the pipes were left bare, and now the students jump up and grab them.

"We want to put in a ceiling to cover those pipes," Mitchell said. "It will make it a lot more aesthetically pleasing and more safe."

The administration office will also be placed in a more central location.

"We'll need to remodel administration so that there is a more identified entrance and a safer, more controlled traffic pattern for the public to gain access to this school," Mitchell said.

The bond is not expected to raise taxes, but if it does not pass, the tax rate could possibly go down. The cost of the bond is about $39 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.

School: Carson Middle School

Built: 1955

Number of students enrolled: 1,077

Estimated cost of improvements: $3.3 million

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