School district office getting face-lift

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Good riddance to wood-paneled walls and orange-brown carpet; the Steamboat Springs School District's central administration office is getting a face-lift.

Work began this week on a month-long renovation project with an estimated price tag of $40,000 to $50,000. The project will include new carpeting throughout the office area and the School Board meeting room and removal of most wood-paneled walls. The walls in the School Board meeting room will be painted, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

"All the schools have been spruced up," Howell said. "We haven't done anything here."

In addition to new carpeting and fresh walls, drop ceilings will be installed in some office areas and the office layout will be reconfigured to improve efficiency and usability, Facilities Director Rick Denney said. For instance, assistant to the superintendent Anne Muhme's office will be enclosed to provide privacy when she meets with new district employees.

Also, several district administrators will swap offices. Howell and Dale Mellor, district director of finances and operations, will switch offices with Denney and Cathleen Nardi, district technology director.

Howell's and Mellor's new office locations will provide more privacy than what they currently have, Howell said. The district also will create a conference room toward the back of the central office to replace the one adjacent to the School Board meeting room. The current conference room location doesn't provide soundproof confidentiality when the School Board and other district officials meet in executive session or to discuss other confidential matters, Howell said.

Renovating the central office was proposed to Howell last summer, shortly after she joined the district. She decided to postpone renovations until other work, such as updates to the Stepping Stones facility used by students with disabilities, was complete or under way, she said Thursday.

"There's been a philosophy here that I really support -- taking care of the buildings where the students are first," Howell said. "Renovating this office has been on the list. I think it's the right time."

The renovations will be paid for with money from the district's capital reserve fund. Money in the fund can't be used for general operating expenses.

School Board members, district employees and community members active in the district often complain about the condition and atmosphere of the School Board meeting room and central office area. The new look will be refreshing, Muhme said.

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