WEST SPRINGFIELD — The last million dollars of pandemic relief funds will upgrade offices and playgrounds at several schools.

West Springfield School Committee member Kathleen Alevras, chair of the Facilities Subcommittee, told her colleagues on March 26 that the district has about $950,000 left of ESSER, the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief, federal aid approved by Congress in 2021. The money has to be spent by the end of 2024.

“Since January, there’s been a lot of upgrades to our facilities. Fortunately, we had a lot of ESSER money to spend,” Alevras said.

So far, the schools have purchased handheld radio systems that will enable administrators to communicate more effectively with each other and with first responders in the event of an emergency, and begun work on renovations at the space used by special education programs in the First Congregational Church annex at 20 Lathrop St.

Additionally, Mittineague School received a new special education playground, and an old playground at Tatham School will be replaced. The north playground at Fausey School will be resurfaced.

Two school renovation projects are expected to finish this summer. ESSER funds will build an enclosed hallway to connect the temporary modular classrooms at Tatham with the rest of the building, which administrators call a safety concern. Currently, because travel between the two buildings is outdoors, students who need to leave a modular classroom individually — such as to visit the nurse or for midday dismissal to a parent — require an adult escort.

The other renovation project this summer will be moving the main office at Memorial School so that it occupies a room adjacent to the front door, and installing a locked vestibule so that visitors check in with the office as they enter the building, rather than being buzzed in and having access to the whole school while they walk to the office. A similar project was completed at Fausey last summer, and another is being designed for Tatham. Memorial is also in line for an upgrade of its electrical system.

After ESSER runs out, the School Department still has plans for facilities projects. Alevras reported at the School Committee’s March 12 meeting that the plan is to spend $1.2 million on the Memorial roof and $420,000 on repairing the middle school track in fiscal year 2025, the year that ends in June 2025. That would be followed by $2.7 million for the Fausey roof, $500,000 for air conditioning at Tatham and $200,000 for the new front entrance and office at Tatham, in FY26; $500,000 for air conditioning at Memorial, $300,000 to $500,000 in electrical work at Mittineague, and $250,000 in masonry work at John Ashley Kindergarten, in FY27; and a new $1 million roof at John Ashley in FY29.

mballway@thereminder.com | + posts