Two significant school projects have received school board approval and will get underway shortly after school lets out for summer vacation. Construction will begin on the new Windham Primary School bus loop and the West End of the Field Allen School will undergo an exterior renovation.
According to Director of Facilities Bill Hansen, a few factors contributed to the change in plans to the bus loop project since its original approval in 2013. Traffic flow, changes in school security and input from parents and administrators all drove the changes that have been made.
The new plan separates bus and staff traffic completely from parent traffic. Parent drop-off and pick up will also be on the same side of the building, rather than the current system which has drop-off on one side of the building, and pick-up on the opposite side.
“This allows for more of a routine,” said Hansen. “Over time it will be easier for the public to follow and understand, and not be such a challenge as far as working around the buses, because the buses will be completely on the other side of the facility.”
Another change is the addition of a sidewalk from the primary school to the high school. A sidewalk extension from the staff parking lot on the side of C house to the stadium will replace the current dirt path.
The changes required a minor amendment from the DEP. An opportunity arose to save approximately $30,000, Hansen said, if the material from the front that need to be removed to create the bus loop was used to start filling in the base for the playground expansion out back rather than being trucked off site.
In order to make these changes work with the money available in the reserve fund, Hansen said the top course of pavement on the parent side of the building will be delayed. The current drop off area, Hansen added, is only base pavement.
Doing these things now moves the playground improvements forward, said Hansen, and he is hoping that next year that project will be completed. When finished, there will be one playground with a perimeter fence that creates a boundary, more green play space, and a walking path that can be used for physical education classes as well.
Hansen said he’s pleased that the school board approved to move forward with the changes. Work will begin as close as possible to the end of school to make the most of a short construction schedule.
“It is always my goal with all these projects that we have contractors done, off site and gone before kids come back,” said Hansen.
At the Field Allen School the exterior of the west end will be updated, including new windows that will provide a lot of natural light. The entry to Field Allen will also be upgraded, putting in waiting area for visitors rather than allowing them to move freely through the school once admitted.
Finally, asbestos containing materials (ACMs), including flooring and wall systems, will be removed from the east end of the school. While these materials aren’t hazardous when in use, Hansen said best practice means it’s time to update the systems. These improvements continue to refresh Field Allen, bringing it one step closer to where it needs to be, Hansen said.
Hansen’s goal for next year is to propose a project that would remove these ACMs from the west end and do a final interior remodel on the east end including update lighting and ceilings and HVAC improvements.
Hansen said he’s excited about the projects that will happen this summer, because they have an opportunity to have a very positive impact on staff and students.
“At the end of the day that’s what we try to do. We try to get to a point where the facilities and buildings operate in such a way that the staff and the students can focus just on the education deliverables that they’re working on,” he said.