Improvements taking place in the school district
By Lori Ruhlman
Crews are busy working in the High School and Middle School this summer, as part of a Capital Project approved by voters in May of 2015. The project involves improvements to portions of the buildings that have not been updated since the 1950s.
This two-step project (over two summers) involves asbestos removal, heating upgrades and safety upgrades. Asbestos and asbestos-related materials must be removed before upgrades can be made to lighting, ventilation, and heating, for example. Things like smoke detectors and ceiling mounted projectors could not previously be updated or installed because of asbestos.
Superintendent Ken Slentz reported to staff this week that the project is “on schedule with minimal disruptions at this point.”
Passersby can see the areas that are sectioned off as crews follow strict asbestos removal guidelines. The portions of the buildings that are open are safe for use, such as the high school gym and the main offices at the high school.
Because of construction, other areas are closed and activities have been moved to other schools for the summer. For example, summer music lessons that usually take place in the high school are taking place at State Street School.
Skaneateles Summer Theater rehearsals and performances have been moved to Waterman School because of asbestos abatement that will be done to the stairways leading into the auditorium. Productions of Thoroughly Modern Millie will be August 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and August 6 and 7 at 2 p.m. at Waterman. Seating will be limited; tickets can be purchased in advance.
Assistant Director of Facilities Elaine MacLachlan said the crews have been great. “They missed one day due to the 4th of July and so they worked a Saturday to stay right on schedule.”
As a result, the district anticipates that the buildings will be ready for school as always in September. Some of the rooms that are being upgraded will already have floors, and some won’t, she said. That’s because the second half of the two-part project will take place next summer.
The project brings back memories from 2008, when all classrooms and hallways at State Street School were renovated and upgraded. Crews worked in the summer, and by the time school started in September, teachers had their “raw” rooms ready for students.
The rooms had exposed floors and ceilings that did not inhibit the process of teaching and learning. In fact, teachers and students made the most of the classrooms that year – painting and writing on walls which were to be finished the following summer.
“I still can’t get over how well the staff adapted to that large project,” MacLauchlan said. “They took a tough situation and turned it into something really fun and educational.” That much larger project also involved moving the entire fourth grade out of State Street School and into the former bus garage for the school year.
MacLachlan said that with this relatively smaller project, people are adapting as well. “Everyone has been wonderful,” from the construction crews to the displaced staff members to community members and groups, she said.
Slentz thanked staff members for their cooperation. “Thanks to all of you who were involved in getting our classrooms and hallways ready so that the contractors could start as soon as possible,” he said in an email. “Particular thanks to our custodial and maintenance teams whose collective effort was incredibly helpful in meeting our June 24 goal.”