Making the Grade

When CMSWillowbrook builds a school, we do our homework first. More than 65 percent of our projects are in the education industry, so we know what it takes to make the grade.

Every educational client has different needs and goals. Treating each one the same would be like memorizing chemistry formulas for a geography test; the results will not be good. Instead, we work closely with each client to formulate a plan that will best serve them. From remodeling rural districts to constructing suburban schools, there isn’t much we haven’t done.  

Deer Creek Middle School Expansion

Building a second floor on top of an existing structure comes with its challenges. Try doing it when the first floor is filled with hundreds of students!

CMSWillowbrook didn’t construct the original Deer Creek Middle School building, but we studied the designs and made a strategic plan which allowed us to build the 52,000-square-foot addition with minimal disruption to students and teachers.

 The CMSWillowbrook crew works on the second floor addition at Deer Creek Middle School.

The CMSWillowbrook crew works on the second floor addition at Deer Creek Middle School.

Timing was crucial, so we started the project at the beginning of summer break to guarantee the steel work would be finished before the students returned in the fall. If we didn’t start early, it would delay the project an entire year. And the rapidly increasing student population meant that was not feasible.

The crew worked nights and weekends during state testing so we didn’t cause distractions at an already stressful time.

We also made it a priority to keep noise levels low while working on the roof. It wasn’t easy to quietly make more than 70 openings. But it was important to the client, so it was important to us. After less than a year of construction, the project finished ahead of schedule and under budget. Rumor has it the students performed well on their state tests, too.

Chickasha Public Schools

There is a specific formula for the number of exit points a school must have based on the number of people in the building. Complying with this important safety regulation requires critical thinking when remodeling older buildings in the middle of the school year.

In Chickasha, CMSWillowbrook made several changes to structures that had the minimum number of exit doors. Every time we needed to close one off, we contacted city inspectors and the fire marshal for approval.

Closing off the two main entrances to redo the administrative offices proved the most challenging. Aside from blocking the biggest exit point in the school, we also fell below the required minimum number of exits.

 The newly renovated entrances at Chickasha Public Schools are ready to welcome hundreds of students each day.

The newly renovated entrances at Chickasha Public Schools are ready to welcome hundreds of students each day.

We solved the problem by creating alternative exit points in areas that were already under construction, ensuring students and faculty would be able to leave the building in the event of an emergency.

This level of coordination with authorities and school administrators allowed CMSWillowbrook to give the client exactly what they wanted while still finishing the job on time and on budget.

El Reno Public Schools Bond Issue

CMSWillowbrook worked on more than 18 buildings as part of El Reno’s bond issue to improve its public schools. We added several classrooms, built four public storm shelters and constructed a 70,000-square-foot elementary school, among other tasks.

 The STEM Center at El Reno Public Schools is one of 18 buildings CMSWillowbrook completed under budget, allowing the district to build an agricultural building with the extra funds.

The STEM Center at El Reno Public Schools is one of 18 buildings CMSWillowbrook completed under budget, allowing the district to build an agricultural building with the extra funds.

One project that wasn’t originally part of the bond was an agricultural building for welding, woodworking and livestock demonstrations. School officials tried to raise money for the project through grants and private donations but were unable to get enough support.

Because CMSWillowbrook completed all the projects outlined in the bond for less than original estimates, school officials used the savings to fund the agricultural building.  

We worked with administrators from design to completion, creating a 3,500-square-foot brick and cast stone building. There was also enough money for a large parking lot. Word spread that the agriculture building was being built, and equipment donations came pouring in. Today, the facility serves as a vital source of education for students in an area of the state rich in agriculture.

CMSWillowbrook always builds value, but value means different things to different people. Whether remodeling one building or constructing dozens of new ones, we give each project the specialized attention required to meet our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations.

Cory Pivniska is the project director of CMSWillowbrook

Larisha Hunter