Hawk Highlights staff writers recently interviewed Galena City Schools Supt. Chris Reitan about the proposed remodeling of the headquarters building on the GILA campus. The building, originally built by the U.S. Air Force, is planned to become the new science and math center for Galena high school students.
By CHLOE TINKER and KASSANDRA GOODWIN, staff writers
Q: How long have you been waiting for the remodel of the headquarters to be done?
A: We first submitted the grant application to the state department of education in September of 2013, so we’ve submitted three times for grant money to remodel it. This past year, we submitted in September and then what happens is whenever the district submits grants to the Department of Education and Early Development and their major statements on grant funds and then all those grant applications get ranked and then those rankings go to the legislature, who are meeting now in Juneau, then they determine how much money get put towards that grant and then how much money they put towards it means then you just go down the list, and if they put $25 million in, then $25 million worth of the projects will be funded. So, we submitted in September 1 and we were ranked number four out of 98 projects, but only so far there is money for the top three projects. We aren’t funded yet, and when we are going to Juneau this spring, we’re lobbying for additional money for that grant program.
Q: Will there be a media and technology classroom?
A: There will be a lot of technology in the building… the second floor will have four science classrooms, there’ll be a state-of-the-art industry lab, a state-of-the-art biology lab, and two kinds of general science classrooms that can be used for village science, ecology, all sciences, and then on the bottom floor there will be three large state-of-the-art math classrooms.
Q: Why do you think it is important for to have science and math at the remodeled building?
A: Well, science and math are, I think, the cornerstones with really strong kind of core academic program. We, right now, do not have a real science classroom for our students… we don’t have the appropriate program equipment like hoods, gas, burners, and the necessary equipment for a real chemistry lab, so this grant would allow us limited funds to have our students engage in real science courses in real science classrooms.
Q: How much of disruption do you think there will be while the remodel is happening?
A: I don’t think it will be a huge disruption because right now we only have three classes in there, and we can find space for those for now, and so my guess is that we take probably a year to remodel the headquarters… let’s say we got funded this year and that money doesn’t become available until July, and then you really can’t use it because construction season is almost over by then. We would wait until January or February kind of right about now, we would put the whole project out for bid for 30 days, companies and contractors would have the opportunity to bid on it and say, “We can do this project for this amount of money.” The lowest bidder would be chosen and then we work through the process of getting a contract in place and then coming first barge. Winter is over, river is open, construction starts. It will probably start May or June of 2017 if we do get the funding. That’ll be the earliest it can start.
Q: How do you think the remodeling will affect the students in anyway?
A: For number one, it’ll be a great new building, the atmosphere would be incredible. There’s open areas for students to study in the front… and it’ll impact sciences particularly that you’ll be able to engage in much stronger science curriculum than were currently able to offer because we don’t have the necessary equipment in place.
Q: After the headquarters is remodeled, what will happen next?
A: Good question… I think that composite building would be the next building we would want to target for energy efficiencies and then to remodel some of the insides so that it is better utilization of space to increase the square footage of the classrooms out there.
Q: Do you have anything else you would like the readers to know?
A: The board is considering putting a new gym floor, bleachers, new crash pads, and replace some of the carpets here at the Sidney C. Huntington School during the summer.