School Septic TanksA lot of digging has been going on at the Lansing school campus this summer.  School Business Administrator Mary June King told school board members Monday that three new septic systems will not be finished for opening day of the new school year, but Lansing school facilities will be fully operational.  The $4.1 million project that includes new septic systems for all three major school buildings is about three weeks behind.  But students, faculty and staff won't notice any difference in September when the plumbing is switched from the old to the new.

"The septic project is still about three weeks behind," King said.  "I want to make sure everybody understands that is just related to turning off the old septic and turning on the new septic.  We knew that would be happening during the fall after the students have arrived on campus.  The old septic is still in place.  It's still working just fine, so we shouldn't have any problems.  The turnover will be done building by building.  It is literally a matter of turning one on and turning the other one off."

The school district had been nursing failing and aging septic systems while waiting to see whether the Town of Lansing would approve a municipal sewer system.  When that project failed in 2013, the district began planning their own project in earnest.  The project was originally estimated at about $5 million, but in February of 2014 Tetra Tech Architects and Engineers Project Manager Tom Farlow told school board members that it would cost about $1 million less because existing sand filters will not have to be removed.  More good news followed when the projects went out for bid.

"Our initial bids came in lower than we anticipated," King says.  "So where there are items from the 2016 project for which the scope may fit into the septic project, we've been moving some of those things into the septic project because we're so under budget.  That's taking some of the pressure off of that 2016 project, and may allow us to increase some areas there that we didn't think we'd have the money for.  The process is just outstanding when you have the right people in place."

Some of those items include exterior solar lighting around the elementary school, and improved lighting in the elementary school foyer and middle school basement.  Lighting will be added to a crawl space that previously had no lighting installed.  King says the project as a whole is coming in a little bit under budget, which will mean slightly less in interest payments.

"That is always good news, because so far I've taken out a bond anticipation note," she says.  "If we do come in under budget, when I go to bond that project I will bond just the amount we need, so that will be a savings for us."

The three septic systems entail new material amounting to about 500 large dump trucks-full being brought in.  Each system has four filter beds about the size of two swimming pools each.

During the construction a number of ball fields have been temporarily unavailable including the Girls varsity Softball Field, and a couple of modified fields.  King says the fields will be restored and there will be no impact whatsoever on the program.  Superintendent Chris Pettograsso said that alternate fields are currently being used for preschool-year varsity practice.

"I want to thank the Lansing Recreation Department and Steve Colt," said Pettograsso.  "They have been excellent to work with.  All of our athletes have quality fields, and they are going great."

Another impact of the project is parking lots that have been dug up or commandeered for the project.  King says that with one exception all the lots will be ready when school begins after Labor Day.

SepticThis new septic system at Lansing High School is one of three major septic systems being installed this summer.

"The contractors and Jim Slavetskas are working very hard to make sure the parking lots have all been re-asphalted before the start of the school year," King says.  "They may not be in place by the Thursday before Labor Day when we have the teaching staff coming in, but the next week they will be all done."

The exception is the senior parking lot next to the high school, which is being used as a staging area for the contractor.  She says that lot will probably not be available for parking until late October, when the project is expected to be completed.

The plan is to switch the plumbing from the old systems to the new, one at a time over the course of a few weekends. 

"They are decommissioning the old septic systems," says school board member Glenn Swanson.  "It won't be as expensive as removing them.  They found enough land to put the new systems in a separate location so they can change some piping around over a weekend and divert the flow from one to another, then go back later and decommission the old field so it's non-usable and doesn't pose a hazard."

School officials insist that the change-over will not impact the school year.

"Just to be clear, we are opening school on time regardless of the amount of dirt that's overturned," Pettograsso said.