Building excitement

The maintenance crew installs a new HVAC unit on the roof of the high school in August.

PUSD makes more than$4.5 million in structural improvements

PAGE – When PUSD students and teachers returned to school, they found numerous improvements had been made to the school buildings and grounds during the summer months. The improvements include such items as a new intercom system at the middle school, new fire alarms at Lake View and reroofing the CAB and Desert View.

The projects – some of which have been completed, while others are still ongoing – come with a price tag just over $4.5 million. The school district’s portion of the bill came to only $40,000. The rest of the funds came from grants from the School Facilities Board (SFB) out of Phoenix. 

"The improvements Cody Chischilly and his crew are implementing will make a big difference to our schools and our community," said PUSD Superintendent Larry Wallen. "We also need to acknowledge that they've been the first line of defense at our school protecting our students from the spread of COVID-19."

Many of the projects – such as new HVAC systems or a newly weatherized building – aren’t flashy; they’re out of sight, and often go unnoticed in the background. But such improvements make a big difference in future maintenance and cooling costs. More importantly, for the teachers and students who attend classes in those buildings, having rooms that are cooler in the hot months and warmer in the cool months provides a more comfortable climate, making it more conducive to learning.

But some of the improvements will grab a lot of attention from the public when they’re completed. One of the big upgrades will be a big overhaul of the high school’s main gymnasium. 

When Sand Devils basketball fans step into the gym in November, they’ll find brand new bleachers and a newly refinished floor. 

Many of the improvements and additions are being done by Maintenance and Grounds Director Cody Chischilly, and it was Chischilly and Chris Swatski, the former maintenance and grounds director for PUSD, who took the initiative to pursue the SFB grants.

“When NGS left, a lot of money that used to come to the schools went away with it,” said Chischilly. “That’s when I started to apply for every grant I could.” 

Chischilly works with a SFB liaison in Phoenix, who helps streamline the grant process, which helps because the process comes with a lot of red tape and oversight.

“They have a whole bunch of hoops to jump through,” said Chischilly. “There are a lot of guidelines and a lot of follow ups to make sure it gets used for what its earmarked for.”

One of the more exciting projects in the pipeline is refurbishing the high school’s pool building. 

“Most of that building will have to be rebuilt,” said Chischilly. “The way it was built in the first place was incorrect. They didn’t include dehumidifiers, so when the water from the pool evaporated, it just stayed in the building and caused a lot of rusting and warped boards.”

Reconstruction of the pool building will be subcontracted out and will start with a bid process.

In obtaining the grants, Chischilly said he received a lot of help from accounts payable Janette Bunting, purchasing clerk Jan Wiese and business manager Vindya Weerahandi.


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