The Churchill County School District has officially opened West End as an operational facility that houses several different district services.
Director of Maintenance Brian Byrd said the property was vacant for almost three years before Adult Ed, Friends Family Resource Center, Food Services and the warehouse were moved to the vacant former school.
“Those departments were spread out around town and they were in inadequate buildings for the purposes those departments needed them for,” Byrd said. “I think it was a great choice that the trustees agreed to use the space at West End for those departments. It’s certainly big enough for all four.”
Byrd said the district looked into several options on what to do with the vacant school. He said it wasn’t feasible to sell the property and it would cost almost $1 million to tear the building down.
The project, though, cost $1.7 million, which is funded by the 2008 rollover bond fund earmarked specifically for renovations and repairs. No money from the general fund was used.
“It became clear that the best option with the lowest cost was to repurpose the building,” Byrd said. “With moving the four departments to the same building the district is now able to save in utilities and other fees.”
The district didn’t renovate the entire building. Byrd said the only renovation that took place at West End were the areas that would be used by the departments. He did say the building was rid of all asbestos and received a new roof.
“Structurally, nothing was chanced inside or outside of the building,” he said. “The majority of the work consisted of removing the asbestos, everything else was cosmetic such as painting and new finishes.”
Byrd said one of the benefits of having the four departments together is everything is centralized. He said the West End building has plenty of room for the Food Services and the Warehouse department to store supplies.
“We created a huge dry storage for food and have a large walk-in refrigerator and freezer,” he said. “We are also putting in a food prep area so employees are able to prep the food before it gets delivered to the schools. We’re still waiting on grants so we’re able to purchase the equipment for the prep station.”
The library where the Adult Ed is located did receive some renovating by updating the bathrooms to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The fate of West End Elementary School was sealed after the trustees voted on the closure of it in 2012. West End was the county’s oldest grammar school with roots that dated back 100 years and a building erected in the late 1940s.
The school board considered closing West End after the 2011 school year, but because certain timelines were not followed, the action was delayed for another year. The decision to close the school was not a new idea.
In 2000 because of a dwindling budget, the district’s Master School Task Force recommended as one of its options to close West End. Among the concerns about keeping the school open included declining enrollment, inadequate wiring to accommodate the computer age, smaller classrooms, higher utility costs and inadequate earthquake safety design.
Another issue centered on the neighborhood surrounding West End at that time. The age of the neighborhood’s population was growing older, thus resulting in fewer students living in the immediate area.
Fast forward to the present when the decision had to be made: Nothing had changed regarding the school’s condition, but the economy was much worse than what it was in 2000. Furthermore, the current Master Plan Task Force in January 2012 recommended to the school board to close West End.
Additionally, some of the educators who were teaching at West End left the district to teach at Oasis Academy.