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Sun, July 21

Abia Judd, Mile High needs range from basic to major

PRESCOTT – If voters within the Prescott Unified School District approve an $18.7 million bond issue in November, Abia Judd Elementary School will get $950,000 and Prescott Mile High Middle School (PMHMS) will get $720,000.

Abia Judd, built in 1988, has about 607 students and PMHMS is home to about 630.

Abia Judd's money will go to some basics, such as new classrooms, a new roof and parking and field renovation. PMHMS's money will go for some major fixes, such as HVAC in the auditorium, a new roof on the small gym and lightning protection school-wide.

Abia Judd Elementary School's principal, Bill Munson, said the four new classrooms he's requesting (at a total cost of $450,000) will accommodate growth.

Teachers said the school could use a new roof, which will cost about $180,000.

Mardi Read, a fourth-grade teacher at Abia Judd, said, "water does come in through the roof."

"But don't worry," she joked, "we just put a trash can under it."

Parking lot and field renovation, for $200,000, will add parking spaces and improve the field.

"Parking is always a problem at Abia Judd," fifth-grade teacher Susan Kissel said, "especially when there's an event going on at Granite Mountain Middle School (which is right next door)."

Students use the field to play on during recess and to learn on during physical education classes.

Though fifth-grader Kaileigh Koons said she likes to play on the field, "the grass is a little bit dead."

"Yeah," agreed Alixis Nagey, a fifth-grader, "and there's too much, like ..."

"Gophers and stuff," Kaileigh finished.

"It's actually a nice field to just play on," Riley Morley, a fourth-grader, said.

Munson would like to spend $10,000 in bond money on security fencing. Currently, the playground where first-graders and older students play, is adjacent to Miller Valley Road. A chain link fence separates the playground from the road.

Munson said he'd like to put in a sturdier low wall to stop any cars that may lose control. While a chain link fence may stop the cars, it also may fall down onto students who are playing, he said.

At the kindergarten playground, Munson would like to put a new ground cover down for $25,000. Currently, sand covers the ground but it has no box to contain it so it runs down a wash when it rains.

"Our building has held up pretty well," Munson said. "We don't need much in the building."

He said most of the school's requests for the bond are for growth and student safety.

PMHMS will get about $720,000 if voters approve the bond. That school's list includes 12 items and four of them cost $100,000 or more.

HVAC for the school's Hendrix Auditorium will cost $180,000 – the largest value on the list.

Although the state's School Facilities Board paid to install air conditioning and heating units throughout the school, the school's old boiler still heats Hendrix. Howard said administrators must fire up the boiler (which occupies an entire room) a few days in advance to heat it in time for a school event during the winter.

"It's not very efficient," he said.

The school rents out the 1,500-seat auditorium year-round to churches and other groups.

Eighth-grader Kelly McShane said the auditorium is "mostly cold," and doesn't get too hot.

If the bond carries, the school will spend an additional $110,000 on Hendrix Auditorium – $60,000 on new curtains and rigging and $50,000 on new stage lighting.

PMHMS band director Ben Bradstreet said everything on the stage inside Hendrix Auditorium is "at least 40 and some 60 years old."

"The lighting is outdated and a lot of the lights don't work, electrically," he said. He added that the curtains should "be re-strung correctly to ensure the safety of the students."

During the winter, he said, the bands cannot practice in the auditorium if the boiler has not warmed up during an unexpected snow.

Art teacher Patty Rummage, who taught drama there for years, said, "those curtains and pulls and ropes are really old. I don't think those ropes have been replaced since I was in high school here in 1958."

She added, "the lights are not adequate."

"It's a great stage, but it needs some perking up," she said.

Several lightning storms in the past have caused a blow-out of the school's fire alarm system. The school would pay $100,000 for a lightning protection system – rods on each building.

Doris Symonds, the principal's secretary at PMHMS for 14 years, said lightning has caused significant monetary damage at the school.

For example, each time the motherboard (which senses fire and smoke) sets off an alarm, it ruins numerous heat sensors – in a storm this past year, Symonds said, lightning hit the building, setting of the alarm and ruining 65 heat detectors, which cost $70 each (for a total of $4,550).

The power often goes out during storms, Symonds said, and student body president Jonathan Pareja, an eighth-grader, said when that happens, students in their classrooms "can't do their work. They're all excited and nobody stays focused."

"All the lights are blinking, the computers go off, the telephones shut down," Symonds said.

Lightning protection, Howard said, would lessen the chances of the school losing power.

The head custodian at PMHMS, Pat Hill, said the irrigation system the school requested, at $100,000, is necessary to maintain the campus grass because the current galvanized iron systems are rusty and do not allow water to get to some of the grass.

"It's an internal, down-deep issue," he said, later displaying a piece of pipe laden with rust and hardened dirt.

"We play football," Jonathan said of his activities on the field. "The grass has been brown and when you get tackled you get scraped up and stuff."

Referring to some of the asphalt on the parking lot, which the school will pay $10,000 to fix, Hill said, "it's just beyond sealing."

Also, several of the wheelchair-accessible ramps have cracks in them that make them rough.

"A 1939 building takes constant upkeep," Howard said. While he acknowledged that the school's previous principal, Jay Collier, did a "great job" with that, he said the money hasn't been available to maintain everything that he believes should have had maintenance.

Contact the reporter at

heller@prescottaz.com

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