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New facilities mean a renewed promise

Taft School has seen a number of changes since spring break but one summer and $5 million dollars later, officials say they’re confident the enhancements will better serve students.

Officials hosted a rededication event from 5:30-8:30p.m. Aug. 28, bringing together alumni, current students and their families to commemorate the new developments at Taft School, 1605 S. Washington St.

A number of changes were implemented as part of the enhancement project including the remodeling of classrooms, reconfiguration of data networks and purchase of a boiler system, among other items.

“Our purpose is to provide a safe and secure learning environment for students,” said DJ Skogsberg, superintendent at Taft, emphasizing how the changes reaffirm the school’s commitment to providing the means for success.

The evening included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a guided tour of the renovated facilities and other festivities.

Chris Cronholm, a graduate from the class of ’75, was in attendance at the event with his wife Susie Cronholm, a teacher at Taft School.

He said he felt nostalgic being at his alma mater and seeing the changes in part because he met his wife here 20 years ago while working as a referee at a basketball game.

Rick Cronholm, a graduate from the class of ’81 and Chris’s cousin, noted how the rededication ceremony gave him a chance to show his pride for the place where four generations of his family were schooled and go on a guided tour.

“They’ve modernized the building,” he said, adding that air conditioning and computers were not around when he was a student at Taft.

Skogsberg said the changes allow the school to become more modern, and how updates made to the heating systems was one of the more critical changes.

He added that the enhancements allow air conditioning in two-thirds more of classrooms.

Over the years, school officials have noted issues with their heating systems, which includes a boiler system in its 1959 building and a three-tiered furnace in its 1909 and 1939 wing.

Skogsberg said in the past, officials have shortened school days to the State-mandated, five-hour requirement because of issues related to extreme heat and HVAC—the most recent disruption of instruction took place in August 2014.

He added that at one point, temperatures inside the school had risen as high as 118 degrees with the windows closed.

School officials at Taft introduced an excessive heat plan to address related concerns in 2012.

Skogsberg said while the school replaced its boiler system this summer, they’re currently maintaining the furnace’s service.

School officials first sought Capital Development Board grant funds but seeing the institution’s place on the waiting list, they looked for other forms of assistance.

Taft raised $5.8 million through a referendum and two alternative revenue bonds for the enhancement project.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to rely on the state to fulfill its promise,” Skogsberg said.

Construction at Taft is in the punch-list process, a touch-up phase, and is expected to end Friday, September 3.

School officials at Taft were hopeful the enhancements would add to student success and further support their mission once classes had begun Sept. 8.

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