Armstrong Elementary in Cottage Grove opens following summer of constructionThe more than 40-year-old school, dedicated to the late Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, had a $8.2 million makeover this summer.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Locker doors that don’t stick are one of the things Tessa Regner and Lauren Severson are looking forward to as they begin their fifth-grade year at Armstrong Elementary School.
They were blown away to see the school’s remodeled bathrooms, too. The first thing they noticed is that the central hand-washing sink was missing. In its place are real sinks with hand-activated faucets.
The girls’ bathroom only had two electric hand driers. Now, they are four and it will take a lot less time to finish when an entire class washes up for lunch or after a bathroom break, according to Severson and Regner.
Even though the two girls will no longer be in those classrooms, they noticed that the ones in the hallway left of the main office have been remodeled. Instead of curtain dividers between the classrooms, there are permanent walls. It was a pain, said the girls, to have to listen to what was happening in the next room.
The more than 40-year-old school, dedicated to the late Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, had a $8.2 million makeover this summer including installation of a new heating and cooling system. Until Pullman Elementary School was remodeled with a new system five years ago, Armstrong was the only school in the district that was air conditioned.
But the system was old, inefficient, and needed replacing, said Principal Tom Berg, who led parents and students on building tours last week.
Armstrong is the last elementary school in District 833 to get totally new heating and cooling systems. They were installed to comply with state regulations to improve air quality in schools by changing the air more frequently.
Temperature controls are digital and can be controlled from a central location, Berg said.
The remodeling of elementary schools is being paid for by long-term bonds, federal stimulus money and federally sponsored zero-interest loans to stimulate the construction industry while improving schools, according to Aaron Bushberger, district finance director.
It will be sort of eerie when you walk down the halls, Berg told those touring the building, because when sensors don’t detect motion, lights will shut off to save energy.
New lighting was installed building wide, he said, and ceilings replaced.
All windows were replaced with energy-saving models that have blinds imbedded between glass panes.
The addition behind the gym is a big air-handling room, Berg said, and students will notice the large vent facing the softball field for fresh air intake.
The building is also a lot quieter, Berg said.
Several storage areas were changed and tables that were stored behind walls in the lunch room were removed. They haven’t been used for a number of years, Berg said, because they could fall on people when being extended. The somewhat narrow wall space will be used for Kid’s Club storage.
The front entrance, as is the case in other elementary schools, has been remodeled, with the inside vestibule doors moved inward. During the day, doors to the school will be locked. The only way to enter the school will be through the central office.
Because the main office desk has been moved, long-time secretary Martha Ross will have to relocate her display of Minnesota Twins memorabilia, Berg said.