Work will begin this week on a door replacement program at Nike Elementary School. The work is part of a $700,000 project to upgrade or replace entrances in all Meramec Valley R-III School District buildings.

The building services department will complete most of the work, according to Chris Delmain, building services director.

“Concerns with security in the district’s 26 buildings prompted the overhaul, but obviously the most critical doors are those in buildings that are occupied by students,” Delmain said.

Kevin Dean, veteran building services staffer, conducted a survey of the district entrances, including maintenance and storage buildings.

“Kevin is the door expert. He knows every door and every key in the district,” Delmain said. “He keeps current records of who has keys to front doors in every building.”

Dean and Delmain reinspected every door, including hinges, closers, glass, knobs and the cameras that allow district secretaries to see who is at the entrance.

Although some doors could be repaired, many will be completely replaced. In some cases, door frames also will be replaced.

“We’re doing this as economical as possible,” Delmain said. “We’re doing exactly what is needed.”

Work at two schools — Zitzman and Robertsville — is already complete.

On Feb. 4, work began on the doors at Nike Elementary. All work will be completed by the middle of July in time for the new school year in August, Delmain said.

The door upgrade program is part of an overall district maintenance program that keeps buildings in good order.

The nine building services department staff and 37 building custodians check every door in the building every day. Once everyone is in the school, custodians go back to the entry doors to make certain they are closed and secure.

District building service personnel also are upgrading the Riverbend School heating and air-conditioning system.

“This included a heat pump that will allow us to regulate the temperature in each room,” Delmain said. “What we’re doing is modifying the system that was already there.”

Three metal roofs at Riverbend and Nike will be sanded and repainted this summer. Riverbend’s roof is under warranty, but the work at Nike will be completed under a bid process.

Delmain said he was surprised recently when consultant Preston Smith told school board members that district buildings were in top condition.

“I didn’t know that was coming,” he said. “But we have a good department and a routine schedule to keep everything working.

“We do as much of the work ourselves as we can,” he added. “It saves the district money and keeps us in every area of every building.”

The department staff also recently remodeled four locker rooms at Pacific High School.

“We gave the rooms a facelift, including ceilings and lights,” Delmain said. “I think anyone from the district who happened to walk through would be proud that our kids have a place like that.”

This week, Delmain, Dean, Tanya Bausch, department secretary, Jeff Piper, district electrician, and Bob Schultz, district HVAC, will meet with Ameren Missouri to discuss possible grants and rebates that might be available to upgrade the lighting in the school.

“We could change out the fixtures ourselves, but because of the number of fixtures in the district it’s an expensive project,” Delmain said.

Other electrical components also will be discussed at the meeting.

“There might be some controls that we could install on boilers to help regulate heat to the rooms in each building,” he said.

Delmain, who came to the district after holding a similar position at the Chrysler van plant in Fenton, said the diversity of skills among members of the district building department helps to keep the buildings in good condition.

“Having an electrician, heating and air-conditioning man, and carpenters makes it possible for us to follow a routine of inspections and repairs,” he said. “And Tanya (Bausch) has a good system of keeping track of everything.”