Willcox schools and needed repairs: Now what?

WILLCOX — The Willcox School district has stood through fire, tornado and time, but certain elements of the district are in need of repair.

On Nov. 5, voters within the Willcox School Unified District said no to a bond to pay for school upgrades and repairs. Therefore, the Willcox School District is to remain in the same condition for the time being.

The Range News visited Willcox School District, touring the school’s sports fields. The Range News saw cracks in all of the school tennis courts, a crumbling sports track, outdated field lights and a dim auditorium. Aside from these sports-related updates, portions of the school that need repair include multiple building’s roofs.

“We didn’t have money to maintain them,” said Willcox School Superintendent Kevin Davis.

Davis told the Range News that to update the field lighting, track and stadium it would cost anywhere from $3.5 million to $500 million depending on the extent of the upgrades.

“These updates are costly endeavors, but where do they fall on the importance scale?” Davis asked.

The Willcox High School, auditorium and gym were built in 1957. The gym is still used, as well as the auditorium. The Willcox Elementary School was built the same year.

Since the building’s creation, there has been a fire in 2011, which resulted in a massive renovation of the main building and the creation of new classrooms on a second story. However, the majority of the plumping has not been updated since 1957.

The Willcox school district was evaluated by an independent architectural firm. The firm informed the district that there was a minimum of $35 million in capital improvements needed across the district,

Projects recommended by the architectural firm included:

• Replace outdated fire alarm systems

• Replace aged boiler storage tanks and valves

• Repair or replace failing sewer systems

• Install security camera systems

• Replace doors and windows at elementary and middle schools

• Finish fencing campus and other security measures

• Repair or replace existing well and irrigation systems

• Various roofing projects

• Replace carpet and tile in many locations

• Improve many restroom facilities and bring to standards

• Replace aged or nonworking cafeteria equipment

• Repair or replace parking lots

• Replace playground equipment

• Replace high school track and football field

• Build an activity room at the elementary school

• Other extra-curricular facility improvements

“Even with the financial problems, and with the facilities, and things like that. I think our school is doing good. We have a lot of good programs and a lot of good things happening. If we were able to get some help with the bond and work on some of those facilities sooner it would be even better,” Davis said.

“And it would help with people coming here, with economic development, with all those types of things that your school plays a part of that people don’t usually recognize right off the bat. They just think, ‘Oh it’s a school; everybody has a school.’ ”

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