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Remodeled middle school open doors to public

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Former students of Carson Middle School will likely be surprised to see all of the changes to their old school after the $14 million remodel. However, they may be most surprised at what has stayed the same.

“The gym’s still the gym,” said Principal Sam Santillo.

The school will be open to the public 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours to showcase the upgrades.

Santillo said many changes were necessary to keep the 54-year-old structure functioning efficiently today, but there was also an effort to maintain the history of the building that served as the city’s only high school, then junior high, and now middle school.

“It’s important for us to maintain tradition,” Santillo said. “It allows us to keep the history intact then build around it with modern amenities.”

Some of those amenities include the latest innovations in energy efficiency. From updated heating and air-conditioning units to sky lights, the school will save money in energy over the long run, according to school district Director of Operations Mike Mitchell.

“The initial cost was a bit more, but the payback is a matter of a few years,” he said. “After that, it’s just gravy.”

He said the natural lighting is not just a cost-saving mechanism, but it may also boost student achievement.

“It’s just better for education,” he said. “It’s a better environment to teach in and better to learn in.”

The school’s facelift was part of a $25 million bond passed by voters in 2006.

Other projects included in that bond were replacing or repairing heating and air-condition units throughout the Carson City School District, repairing roofs at Carson High School, Eagle Valley Middle School and Empire and Seeliger elementary schools, and improving drainage on the track field at Carson High School as well as installing new bleachers and upgrading the field.

The $14 million at Carson Middle School eliminated the 11 portable buildings that served as school classrooms. The school is now all under one roof, with each grade designated to a different wing.

“Over the years, the school had lost its appeal because it had been changed so much,” Santillo said. “We lost some of our connectedness. Now there’s a true sense of a closer culture. We’re collectively a better unit with a building that’s modern.”

He said the remodel has also improved school safety with one central office where visitors must check in and students remaining inside the same building throughout the day.

Mitchell said he’s 99 percent pleased with the results of the remodel and is eager to show taxpayers the results.

“When we went to the public to ask their permission to continue their current tax rate, we committed to doing certain things,” he said. “They have not had a chance to see what they got for their money. This is our opportunity to show them.”

And he knows there’s a lot of interest in the school.

“There’s a lot of community pride in Carson Middle School,” he said. “There’s not hardly a person who didn’t go to school there or have a child go to school there.”

Although, he admitted, it may be hard to recognize now.

“But they’ll go in and see the gym and go, ‘Oh, now I know where I’m at.'”

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.