Union Public Schools wasted no time jumping into new bond projects, once voters had approved the district’s first multi-year bond in February 2018 and initial funding was secured. Many of the bond projects will be completed in phases over the next five years, as the district does not receive the $128.6 million in funding all at one time. Work proceeds as funds become available.
Here are the projects that were completed in 2019 (Year 2 of 5):
Union Innovation Lab
Fall 2019 marked the opening of the Union Innovation Lab. Located at 6235 S. Mingo Rd., the facility went through a significant Phase I renovation in 2018, along with the accompanying furniture, fixtures and equipment. The transformation has included seven classrooms, including a virtual/digital gaming room, a computer lab with 3D printers, Ubotics (Union + robotics, get it?), as well as classroom space utilized by Tulsa Tech and soft seating. A second phase is planned for a later date.
Five teachers in the Innovation Lab are working together to create problem-based learning experiences that allow students to master the standards in a content area by solving real-life problems. Classes include Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Science, Environmental Solutions, Computer Science, Algebra 2, Math for Life, and English I and II.
Recently, students in Environmental Science tested the soil behind the building to determine the percentage of sand, silt, and clay. They also performed a chemical analysis to test the nitrate, phosphorus and potassium content, as well as the pH. They found the silty clay loam holds a lot of water and does not drain well, has a neutral pH, and is very low in nitrate and phosphorus. Students plan to improve soil quality by adding compost to increase nutrient levels and to add more sand to improve drainage. They are also using these results to determine which plants will grow best.
Greenhouse at Union Collegiate Academy
The 165 students studying Botany now have year-round access to live plants in the new greenhouse located on the Environmental Science patio on the third floor of the UCA. It is a complete environmental growing habitat for plants, including humidity, temperature, and circulation control using the iGrow 100 Series environmental controller and LED growing lights. Students are able to get hands-on experience with horticulture, including germination, greenhouse management, irrigation, pest management, and plant nutrients.
Dr. Jay Walker, who teaches Environmental Science, said, “We are able to start seeds in the greenhouse, allowing us to get a two-month head start on growing plants to be cultivated in the school gardens. Student-grown produce from that garden is harvested, and Child Nutrition incorporates it into the menu. We are able to conduct plant-based experiments – such as today’s photosynthesis lab – regardless of weather.”
Botany students grow plants for other classes like AP Biology and Organic Chemistry. Sixty AP Biology students will conduct various experiments in the greenhouse throughout the year. Special education students have been growing mint and visit the greenhouse daily to water the plants.
“A student-led project already underway is growing houseplants that can be ‘checked out’ by teachers who like greenery in their rooms,” said Walker. “As the plants need attention, they can be traded for healthy ones.”
Other plans include student-designed and executed plant sales featuring herbs, pansies or succulent wreaths. The students are also working on a courtyard project at McAuliffe Elementary.
1-to-1 Implementation/Grades 9-12
In August 2019, the district completed the rollout of “1-to-1” at Union High School, providing every student in grades 9-12 with a laptop computer for use 24/7, as well as portable MiFi 4G wireless access for high-speed internet at home.
Efforts by K-12 schools to give every student a laptop computer (called “1-to-1”) have been shown to increase student achievement in English/Language Arts, writing, math, and science. This will enable teachers to deliver more personalized content to students, boost their technology skills, and empower young people to do more complex and creative work.
“Having devices in the hands of every student has certainly transformed the way instruction is delivered and has empowered the students to take a greater sense of responsibility for their own learning,” said Kenneth Moore, principal at the Union High School Freshman Academy.
Students agree. Freshman Kelly Easton said, “In all of my classes this year, it has basically replaced all of our paperwork. You can go back and look at notes on your computer through Canvas. There are a lot of references. You can get textbooks on Canvas on our computers. Overall, it’s very helpful.”
Ninth grader Tatum Hayworth said, “We have a lot more assignments online, and then you go home and do your homework online on the computer. You can submit documents and don’t have to worry about losing your papers. It gives you more resources when working from home.”
Performing Arts Center – New Sound System
The sound system at Union’s PAC was desperately in need of an upgrade. “There was a certain amount of muddiness to the sound quality,” said drama teacher Troy Powell. “We were afraid we were going to lose sound midway through Newsies. ‘Please don’t go out! Please don’t go out!’ We really didn’t realize how bad the old system sounded until we got the new one.”
Union chose Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) loudspeakers with 21 Anna array modules arranged in a Left-Center-Right configuration, with Otto subwoofers. The Anna is part of EAW’s Adaptive Systems loudspeaker line, which can assess and perfectly match the three-dimensional performance requirements of any venue. Adaptive Systems loudspeakers utilize a high-resolution array of discretely powered and processed acoustical devices, in concert with software, to create optimized results without physical reconfiguration.
“This lets us create a wider sound field and spread out the audio for greater definition,” said Brian Deyo, manager of the PAC. “We can run instruments like a piano in stereo and place other sounds – like voices – in the center cluster. With the old sound system, everything originated from a single point in the middle, with delayed speakers covering the over- and under-balcony seating.”
This state-of-the-art EAW system is the same one used by Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City, Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., and at Arizona State University’s Sun Devils Stadium. “These are literally the exact speakers used by the touring productions of Hamilton,” said Powell. “When they were in town, we went by and said, ‘Hey, nice speakers, guys. We have those.’”
Powell said his actors need to be careful about clothing choices, as the microphones are so powerful, they have been known to pick up the swoosh of a dress. “This sound system is the new industry standard. I think when people hear how crisp and clear the sound is, they are going to be absolutely floored. It’s forcing us to up our game in all respects.”
Union Collegiate Academy
UCA, known for its sophisticated atmosphere and collegiate vibe, received a new secured front entrance to improve safety. “We are really pleased with the way this turned out,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “Not only were we able to significantly improve security with more controlled access for visitors, but we were able to do so without compromising the look and feel of a modern college campus. Now we have much greater control in preventing unwanted people from entering the building and keeping students and staff safe.”
New Stadium Preparation
Over the summer, electrical, gas, sewer and communication lines in between the high school and stadium were relocated. This is critical infrastructure work that had to be completed before the new stadium could be built.
Cedar Ridge Elementary
Flooring was replaced in 95 percent of the building, including carpeting and tile in classrooms, hallways and the office, and new vinyl-coated tile in the gym.
The floor was replaced school-wide, along with cabinets in classrooms and the main office. New LED lighting was installed in the library and teacher’s lounge. The playground was also reconfigured, including the replacement of the old “big toy” with a new one, as well as new drainage work. Over the last three years, Darnaby has had almost a total makeover.
The boys’ bathroom was remodeled, including the replacement of outdated facilities.
The outside of the building was repainted and outdoor lighting replaced with energy-efficient LED lighting. Other maintenance included re-caulking and painting around windows, and sealing and waterproofing of the external building.
Furniture, fixtures and equipment were purchased for the second half of the building, including furniture for classrooms, maker spaces and the new media center. Phase II of the HVAC system was completed and improvements made to the community garden, including drainage, drip irrigation, and raised beds for planting.
This completes Ochoa Elementary.
Union High School Freshman Academy
Asphalt work was performed on the south side of the building. New building signage was completed in September, in keeping with the renaming of the school. A new skylight in the media center replaces the old one that leaked. A new chiller plant was also recently installed.
New Digital Marquees
Placed at Andersen, Boevers, Clark, Grove, Jarman, Jefferson, McAuliffe, Moore, and Rosa Parks.
Fuel Island upgrades at Transportation/Operations
The Fuelmaster system has been updated to a new version that provides detailed data regarding fuel usage with an eye toward improved efficiencies. It is used for all district vehicles and school buses. At Operations, the driveway approach was repaved, as well as the employee service road.