By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools administration had ambitious plans for district-wide improvements to be completed once school let out in June and are reporting that the work was completed before students returned last week.
The projects, which total about $13 million, are part of the first phase of construction for the district’s $76 million bond proposal that was approved by voters last November.
The name “SMART” is an acronym that stands for security, modifications, additions, renovations, technology and transportation, which are the items that will be addressed with money from the bonds.
“Everything in ‘Phase 1’ is complete,” DPS Director of Operations Jeff Burek said. “We met all of our goals and now we will begin preparations for the next phase of work.”
Upgrades and improvements were completed district-wide, the biggest being a new concession and team room area at Edsel Ford High School.
Roofs were also fixed or replaced at McDonald, Lindbergh, Snow, Smith, Stout Middle and Dearborn High School and new lockers were installed at Salina, Maples, Lowrey, Stout and Howard.
Burek said new playground equipment was installed at eight schools, including Haigh, Howard, Lindbergh and McDonald elementary schools and the Dearborn Heights Center.
The parking lots at Lindbergh, Becker and McCollough were resurfaced, as was a playground area at Howard.
The district also purchased eight 78-passenger general education buses, two 78-passenger air-conditioned special education buses, four 72-passenger air-conditioned special education lift buses and four 72-passenger special education lift buses with SMART bond funds in February to replace older vehicles in the fleet.
Burek said bids are being sent out for additions at William Henry, Henry Ford and Geer Park elementary schools and for the concession area at Fordson, which would be projects that could be completed while school is in session.
He added that technology and security upgrades will begin throughout the district.
“We did quite a bit of work and we were able to finish everything before the students came back, which was why we waited for summer to begin,” Burek said.
DPS Supt. Brian Whiston said in April that many community members had contacted the district asking why work wasn’t being started on bond projects.
“We said when the bond got approved that we would begin the work over the summer and it would run for about 2.5 years,” Whiston said. “But when people don’t see any work for six or seven months (after an election) they wonder what’s going on, but we have said all along that we would wait until summer and now we are ready to get started.”
The district also has a section of its website dedicated to bond work describing what each building will receive as part of the bond money.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)