Omaha Public Schools nearing completion of 2018 bond projects, district says

Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 22, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Schools says they're wrapping up their 2018 bond projects and gave 3 News Now a look inside some of the improved buildings on Friday.

One of the schools: Lewis and Clark Middle School. A new addition opened last year. Apart from more room, a new entrance has added security because you enter into a vestibule instead of directly into the school. The addition also includes doors that double as a tornado shelter, something the school didn't have yet.

Voters in the OPS district authorized additional taxes in 2018 for about $410 million worth of physical school improvements and five new schools, including two high schools.

"I'm very proud to report that we finished on time and within budget for that bond," said Charles Wakefield, the chief operations and talent officer at OPS. "In fact, we were able to manage our resources so well that we have added scope."

He said a good example of where they were able to do more than originally planned is at Spring Lake Elementary in South Omaha. There, they added a new stairwell and gave the whole building a "facelift."

Principal Katy Cattlett said the new stairwell improves flow in the building, including emergency drills.

The originally planned improvements bring the school together under one roof.

"The biggest difference is that we're all inside of one building," Cattlett said. "We no longer have portables."

The portables added more room, but were disconnected from the rest of the school.

Another example of additional spending Wakefield says they were able to fit in: Stadiums at Buena Vista and Westview High.

Wakefield gave a "rough" estimate that OPS saved $10 million by "being very careful" with the projects.

Final, minor work on the 2018 bond projects is expected to wrap up in August next year.

Find more on the projects from OPS here.

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