Seeliger and Empire in need of basic repairs

The elementary schools with the largest and smallest student populations will not use much of the proposed $18 million bond planned for making general improvements throughout the district.

Together, Seeliger and Empire elementary schools will need less than $900,000 to complete projects such as renovating asphalt and remodeling a playground.

One of the main projects planned for Seeliger is replacement of the roof's wooden fascia, with a metal lining on the overhang of the roof.

"Wood is not a great material on the outside in this climate, especially if it's on the south side," said Mike Mitchell, director of operations for the school district. "It will be a major improvement visually. It's cheap, but it will prevent a lot of maintenance."

One of the school's greatest strengths has also proved to be its weakness. Unlike many of the schools which are cramped for space, Seeliger has a large parking area in front and a large playground area in the back.

"Asphalt is probably the most economic way to create large, impervious surfaces," Mitchell said. "It's the traditional material, but is has a life of only about 20 years."

He said the asphalt at Seeliger should have been replaced five to 10 years ago.

"It's really reached the end of its useful life," Mitchell said. "It's been patched and cut as many times as it can be."

He said although it will cost a lot to replace, it will save money in the long run as maintenance costs go down.

Instead of asphalt at Empire, the carpet will have to be replaced.

"The seams are coming up and that's kind of a safety issue," Mitchell said. "Carpet seems to last us about 10 years. In these high traffic areas, it's time to be replaced."

Beyond that, no other improvements are planned for the building itself.

"Empire really is a good school," Mitchell said. "It doesn't need a whole lot of improvements."

However, the playground at the school will be renovated.

The school has a joint-use agreement with the city on a seven-acre piece of land adjacent to the school. Until now, it has served mostly as a park but Mitchell said he would like to see the school put it to use as a play area.

"It was designed more as a landscape area," he said. "We need to do some improvements to make it more conducive to playground use."

The main improvement will be to smooth out the large hill in the park.

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

School: Seeliger Elementary

Built: 1978

Number of students enrolled: 733

Estimated cost of improvements: $571,500

School: Empire Elementary

Built: 1989

Number of students enrolled: 604

Estimated cost of improvements: $317,500


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