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GRANT ELEMENTARY: To finally get air conditioning as part of summer wish list

COLUMBIA, 6/21/12 (Op Ed) -- At Grant Elementary this summer, Columbia Public Schools will finally install long-overdue central air conditioning, promised for years as part of bond and tax levy increases.
The A/C is part of a long summer "to do" list principal Kris Matthews recently announced. "Probably the most ambitious and most appreciated project will be the installation of a new heating and cooling system for Grant," she explained. "New duct work will be run through the whole school, so most of the hallway ceilings and some classroom ceilings will be coming down."
Fall students will also see new equipment on the playground and "a playground built for the Grant Montessori Preschool," Matthews explained. "It will be in the former spot of Trailer E, chosen in part because of the shade created by the trees around this area."
Other projects involve more trees -- and windows.
"All of the windows in the primary wing will be replaced this summer. This includes the office and all classes grades pre-k through 2nd," Matthews said. "Currently, the windows are made of Plexi-glass (and duct tape, caulking, and whatever other creative thing teachers have used to keep out the elements). The new windows will be nice, sturdy, double-paned glass with a tint, which will help keep the rooms cool."
On the advice of city arborist Chad Herwald, a large Bradford pear tree on the playground will come down and crews will trim other trees. Last year, a Bradford pear limb fell and crushed a playground bench, Matthews explained.
"This tree will be removed in part of an ongoing plan for replacing the Bradford pear trees on the Grant playground," she said. Fast-growing trees will replace them.
To accommodate the new Montessori and other programs, crews will also do some interior remodeling.
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