SEAS school upgrades are on schedule
Drive by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish School on Tyler Street and you're likely going to be surprised. There is a definite new look to the 51-year-old building.
Since the school year ended in June, there has been a number of visible activities - roof repair, installation of new windows throughout, remodeling of the second floor computer lab and library. What remains to be completed is the installation of all new exterior doors, a security system, new carpeting in four classrooms, computer upgrades, new stage platforms.
The "Tyler Street Upgrade," is costing close to $200,000 (approved by the parish council), but will provide the parish many more years of quality service from the building.
Seton School principal Rita Humbert is very pleased to see the work underway. It is on schedule to be completed in time for the 2010-2011 school year. But it is only part of the larger picture of what is happening inside the building.
"It is a refreshing to see what is happening here," she said. "For many, the first impressions of a building are the lasting ones and the upgrades show the parish is committed to the education of its young people."
Church pastor the Rev. James Perkl said the improvements would help to improve, enhance the education and faith building inside.
"It (faith building) is the reason for the education, something the parish continues to support," he said. "It is a continuance of the growing of the youth programs within the building."
The decision to complete the upgrades at the school building came after two studies -- one by the school advisory council, the second by a parish task force -- with final approval by the parish council.
"The recommendation of the Phase III Task Force has been, and continues to be, to move all the parish's programs to the church campus (West 15th Street)," said parish administrator Mark Dittman. "But some other factors have entered into the process."
(Phase I of the process was the building of the church more than 15 years ago; phase II was the move/ building of the preschool addition, and social hall at the church campus in 2006.)
A building assessment of the Tyler Street building had been completed by the school's advisory council and included information about what upgrades were necessary to continue use of the building as an education facility for grades 1 to 8.
The task force recommendation to build a new school has been put on hold, possibly for as long as 10 years, Dittman explained.
First of all, the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, of which Seton Parish is a member, put a moratorium on all building. Then, too, the parish council realized it was not a good time for ask parish members to begin paying for another building when they are in the midst of paying off the debt for the previous construction (that campaign continues to do well).
"We wanted to continue to be high quality," site facilities manager Mitch Carmody. "This building is structurally very sound."
A list of prioritized upgrades has been prepared for the building. The roof had to be repaired; the windows were the original ones and were not energy efficient. As the parish worked, and continues to eliminate itself of the debt (from the construction) it initiated a Financial Freedom campaign this spring. Parish members were notified that $157,000 of the funds would be used for the upgrades. The remainder of the funds is from the parish general improvement fund.
"In essence what we are doing is putting a 'new envelope' on the building - roof, windows, doors," said Carmody.
The projects were put out for bid, with a major prerequisite being that work is completed during the summer months.