Yukon school cafeterias get ‘refreshed’

Remodeling upgrades funded through fall ’21 bond issue

Lance Haggard (standing, second from left), Yukon Public Schools’ executive director of elementary education, is joined by YPS maintenance personnel this week as they deliver new tables and booths for the Lakeview Intermediate School cafeteria. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles highlighting projects funded through a $194 million bond issue approved by Yukon Public Schools’ voters in November 2021.

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Cafeterias are being “refreshed” across the Yukon school district – thanks to voter support.

Yukon Public Schools has made improvements to cafeterias at all elementary, intermediate and middle school sites. This has provided a bright, modern look.

These cafeteria refreshers feature new, long tables branded with the Yukon Miller “Y” logo, high tables and booths.

“It’s designed to be more aesthetically pleasing for the students,” YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said. “Sometimes, those old lunchrooms can get a ‘little stale’.”

In fact, one elementary school hadn’t had new cafeteria furnishings since the late ‘70s.

These upgrades have been funded through the district’s November 2021 bond issue package resoundingly approved by Yukon school patrons.

The Yukon school district sets aside an average of $3 million annually from its bond fund to remodel elementary and intermediate sites, and some areas of the middle school.

“Our plan is to start on the insides, and work our way out,” Simeroth said.

Besides the refreshed cafeterias, these schools also are getting new carpeting and painting inside.

Although these upgrades are important and long overdue, they often go unnoticed by the general public.

YPS officials pointed to research showing that aesthetically pleasing buildings greatly improve the school environment.

“It makes a huge difference,” Simeroth explained. “It increases learning and makes kids care more about what they do and where they are.”

Bond funds have allowed YPS personnel and contractors to make improvements to cafeterias, offices and classrooms.

Jordann Hayes, a behind-the-lines food service employee at Myers Elementary School, shows off Myers’ newly refreshed cafeteria. Hayes attended the school from 1997 to 2003. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
This “refreshed” cafeteria at Parkland Elementary School is among improvements that have been funded through a $194 million bond issue approved by voters in November 2021. (Photo provided)


And many Yukon students took notice, judging by their reactions toward the end of the school year.

“I didn’t expect to see how overwhelmed they were,” Simeroth shared. “It was like Christmas in the schools.

“It’s important for the community and parents to know that we continually are trying to make sure our buildings are clean and updated.”

Since Yukon school sites welcome students for breakfast and lunch throughout the school year – and for some summer meals – this cafeteria refresher project has been welcomed.

“It’s just so nice to be able to do this for our students,” Simeroth said.

“When our kids go in the cafeteria and, right off the bat, they see the big ‘Ys’ and big Millers on the tables, they identify with that and say, ‘that’s who we are’.

“It’s good for the unity of our school district. We’re all in this together; we’re all Millers.”

There is no property tax increase from the fall ‘21 YPS bond issue because the $194 million in new bond debt over 10 years will be added as previous school bonds are retired.

The tax cost is estimated at $112 per year for a home assessed at $450,000.

The Yukon High School cafeteria and commons area will be remodeled in another YPS bond-funded project. Construction on that isn’t expected to start until summer 2023 at the earliest.

The Surrey Hills Elementary School cafeteria has a bright, modern look after the recent remodeling project. (Photo provided)
This shows how the Independence Intermediate School cafeteria appeared before receiving new furnishings. (Photo provided)