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School referendum project kicks off at Rocky Branch

Instead of a teacher, John Woehrle, a sheet metal foreman for Cool Air Mechanical of St. Paul, sits at a table in a Rocky Branch Elementary classroom. Woehrle, from Ellsworth, is going over plans for ductwork routes that will soon go to all the rooms in the school from a new rooftop air-conditioning and heating unit. The system will replace the floor ventilators that were in every room. Phil Pfuehler photo.

The 2011-12 school year just ended but already you would hardly recognize the inside of Rocky Branch Elementary. Rooms, hallways, ceilings and the main office are largely torn up as the grade school undergoes renovation for handicapped accessibility, security, mechanical systems including air conditioning, electrical upgrades for technology, and improved energy efficiencies.

The $19-million referendum was passed by River Falls School District voters last November.

About 30% of the work-related projects from that referendum will occur this summer at Rocky Branch, the high school and the bus garage.

The rest of the construction will take place and be completed in summer 2013.