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The City Journals

Time For A Make-Over: Schools Get Cool This Summer

Aug 06, 2015 10:33AM ● By Bryan Scott

Air conditioning units being installed

By Tori Jorgensen

West Jordan - Custodial and construction teams are hard at work at West Jordan Middle School and Joel P. Jensen Middle School this summer, as both schools are undergoing major renovations, including the implementation of air conditioning. 

Tim Brooks, assistant principal at West Jordan Middle School, said most people believe schools are desolate and void of life in the summer, but the opposite is true. 

“What is happening here is revolutionary,” Brooks said about the construction at the 57-year-old building. “There is a ton of maintenance being done day in and day out.” 

Scott Bateman, head custodian at WJMS, said thirty men are working on the various renovations around the school to get these projects finished in three months. Half of the roof is being redone, a new boiler system is being put in and air conditioning is being added to the entire school.  

Brooks said he remembered the horrific heat in the classrooms from his beginning days at WJMS as a teacher. 

“I brought in a thermostat and it hung on the wall, and it would get to be 90 degrees. That is disgusting,” he said. “It’s not a 90 degrees like you are outside and at a beach either; this is 90 degrees of breathing each other’s same air.” 

Brooks said he predicts student test scores will go up this year as a result of the air conditioning installation because people perform better when their physical needs are met.

Bryan Leggat, principal of Joel P. Jensen Middle School, said the physical conditions of the older schools in Jordan District have been poor compared to the newer schools. He said air conditioning will help the amenities of JPJMS more closely match those in the newer schools. 

“It’s so nice that we are getting air conditioning. It’s like the district is saying, ‘Hey, we’re not leaving you out,’” Leggat said. “Recently the culture at our school has been changing. For example, we went from 4700 tardies in one year to just 3300. Now there is a fresh change in the building that reflects our change [in student behavior].” 

Leggat said he is starting to call the 2015-2016 school year, “The Year of The Cool Cat” as a fun catch phrase to motivate the Joel P. Jensen Panthers.

A long with the addition of air conditioning, the administrative offices are being relocated at JPJMS. Leggat said the offices were too far back from the front door, making it unsafe. A visitor would reach classrooms before getting to the main office. 

Numerous times the band teacher has reported incidents of sales people or private music instructors walking into the school and entering the classroom without a visitor pass. 

“When you have people who can just walk in without stopping into the office, it is just not a safe environment,” Leggat said. “In our new office, our police officer will be right there, just a couple steps away from the front door.” 

Renovations to JPJMS are scheduled for completion Aug. 10, and renovations to WJMS are scheduled for completion Aug. 11. Both schools will be ready, air conditioning and all, for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 24.