East Fairview School Undergoes Remodel

Students and the kitchen staff at East Fairview School were thrilled to start the school year in their newly remodeled building while administration moved in over the Christmas break.

The original school burned down in 1922 at which time the two-story building was erected. The wing housing the elementary, offices, kitchen, and cafeteria were built in 1954. Prior to that, all classes were held in the two-story building. In 1965, the library was added and the gym addition took place in 1983.

The complex was in serious need of an upgrade. A state-required facility assessment determined that the two-story building, which housed the junior high, special education, and speech therapy, had to be demolished. It was not ADA compliant, was not up to fire code since it was made of wood, and the basement had flooded a couple of times. The 1950s kitchen also needed to be replaced as did the administration section. Rather than do the project in three phases, the school was able to do it all at one time, with the support of the taxpayers, the county commissioners, and oil money.

On June 14, 2022, a $3 million bond request was passed by voters by an 83% majority. "The taxpayers have always been super supportive of the school," East Fairview principal Derek Gackle stated. The McKenzie County Commissioners reached out and proposed using Bankhead Jones money to provide 45% of the slightly over $6.5 million project. Bankhead Jones funds come from oil royalties on federal land and are earmarked for roads and schools only. Gackle said the McKenzie County Commissioners, Chairman Howdy Lawler, vice-chair Joel Brown, Craig Hystad, Kathy Skarda, and Clint Wold, were extremely supportive of the project from initial contact through the entire construction process. Another year of Bankhead Jones money came up during construction, resulting in payment of 100% of the construction costs. "Our taxpayers who are used to seeing an increase every year, will not see one this year," Gackle said cheerfully.

Once the old two story building was demolished, 25 feet were added to the south side of the school while four classrooms for junior high, and a sparkling new kitchen were added to the east side. Security doors were added throughout. The south addition houses administration with a school resource officer's room and a counselor's office, both of which can be used for one-on-one interactions with students. A spacious boardroom, teachers' work and mailroom, principal's office, business office, server closet, bathrooms, and a new entry complete that addition.

On the east side, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders all have new classrooms while the fourth classroom has big tables for STEM, art, science, and food sciences. Abundant cabinets in every room provide counter space as well as storage. New bathrooms were also included. The spacious kitchen is state of the art with gleaming stainless steel appliances and counter tops plus a serving station for both hot and cool foods. The walk-in freezer and cooler and ample dry storage make storing huge quantities of food much easier. Delivery of that food has been made much more efficient with a separate entry.

In the old part of the building, STEM classes now take place in the old science room, while special education, and speech therapy share a former classroom. Maintenance has an office in that wing as well.

Beautiful carpet highlights the administration area while tile in blue and gold Warrior colors brighten the floors of the east construction and entryway. Plans call for all the flooring in the school to be replaced soon.

Gackle said that current enrollment at East Fairview School is 64 students, with class sizes about 10 students each. The facility could comfortably accommodate twice that many. A lack of housing on that side of town is a stumbling block but students from farther outside the town are more than welcome. "We'll pick them up," he said.


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