By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
The Lena Dunn school library will get a facelift thanks to a generous alumni donation, but the public is needed to help.
The Washington School Board learned at its meeting Thursday details of a renovation project at the elementary school funded by Thomas and Stacey Emmons of Houston.
Thomas Emmons, a vice president with LINN Energy in Texas, is a former Lena Dunn student and a 1987 Washington High School graduate. Washington Media Specialist Tara White told the board Emmons wanted to make a lasting donation to his former elementary school.
“He really went to the idea of ‘What can I do more than just books?’” White said. “After that, it was kind of a runaway train.”
When Emmons decided to help the library, White said, he enlisted the help of his business contacts through the energy industry. He secured the services of Houston-based architectural firm Ziegler Cooper for design, Kimball International for furniture and LINN Energy to donate technology. Thomas and Stacey Emmons will also be making a sizable donation for materials.
In what will take about a month to complete, the Lena Dunn library will be transformed from its current state to a modern learning center. New carpeting will be installed, along with new shelving, furniture and lighting. A large LCD flat screen TV will also be added for presentations for the children.
New technology will also be installed as LINN Energy is donating 15 new computers, including three tablet computers, for the library.
“We’re going to be able to get a lot more students in there,” White said.
But White and the board need some help. Currently, there is no one available to tear up and install the new carpet.
She and Superintendent Daniel Roach said the estimates they received from companies were too high and would limit the work the school can do. Roach said estimates were double what the expected costs would be.
They are asking the public to donate to the Lena Dunn project to help defray the costs.
“We’re really hoping we can get a good (estimate) because we are getting a good price for the carpet,” White said.
But while the carpet situation is minor, the teachers and staff are excited to have a new library at Lena Dunn. Construction will begin in December and should last a month.
“It has been so neat to see the reaction of the teachers and staff who are there at Lena Dunn,” White said.
Emmons will be in Washington on Monday to present the donation at Lena Dunn.
Roach presented the board a proposal from Road Skills, Inc., to use the school facilities to teach driver’s education.
The school asked Washington to waive its standard fee for using a high school classroom and computers for the classes, saying it would have to pass the costs on to the students.
Board members were skeptical and listed concerns about liability and security with the for-profit program. Roach was instructed to address these concerns with the school before any vote will be taken.
Washington stopped offering driver’s education as a class last year due to low numbers, liability and the use of a vehicle.
In a rare moment, the board voted 5-2 to include a new school board policy on public comment. Board members Mike Traylor and Peg Stephens dissented.
The policy outlines how comments from the public can be accepted during a board meeting. For a person or group be on the board’s agenda, they have submit a request by the Friday before a meeting, so it can be included.
The policy also gives some guidelines on patrons speaking at the meeting. Roach said the policy is not stifle public input during the meeting, but to be a guide in case there is a situation, like irate parents.
Stephens and Traylor worried it would be used to stifle comments that a person would like to make.