Like the recently completed Twin Valley Elementary School, the middle/high school project is a combination of new construction and a comprehensive renovation of existing buildings. But with a price tag of about $9 million, the middle/high school project is nearly three times as big as the elementary school project. DEW Construction is the contractor for both projects.
Since groundbreaking in September, the foundations for three new buildings have been poured. A new administrative building will sit in front of the original administrative offices. The floor slab was poured before winter, and construction of the steel structure should begin soon. Footings for an enclosed hallway connecting the administrative building to the original structure are already in place.
The foundation for the new gymnasium, located next to the old gymnasium, has also been completed, but the slab hasn’t been poured. According to architect John Berryhill, DEW is using special mobile heaters to keep the earth within the foundation walls above freezing. Once the gymnasium’s metal structure is up and fully enclosed and heated, they’ll finish backfilling and pour a slab floor. But if the ground were frozen when backfilled and poured, Berryhill says, the floor would be unstable.
The foundation for the new art and industrial arts building is also in place. Located behind the school and built into the hillside, the building will have classrooms for the school’s art program, the shop program, and a welding bay.
As part of the elementary school project, the interior of the building was transformed from 1970s open classrooms to traditional classrooms. The transformation of the interior of Whitingham’s 1960 building is nearly as comprehensive. Although the classroom layout won’t change, each classroom is being stripped bare to receive updated materials, including new wiring, heating, and, in the two science rooms, new plumbing.
Board member Phil Taylor says energy upgrades to the existing building should save money, and create a more comfortable atmosphere at the school. New rigid insulation has been installed in classrooms along all foundation walls. The old glass block and single-pane porthole windows that made up the exterior walls of the classroom pods have been removed and replaced with insulated panels and large windows. Hallways between the pods, once lined with single-pane windows, will also receive the same treatment. Each pod has a roof-mounted ventilation system that extracts heat from the air before venting it to the outside.
The biggest transformation may be in the old gymnasium. The building has been divided into several different rooms, including a theater/auditorium with the existing stage, a studio and equipment room for The Student Network, and a large music room with smaller practice rooms. The former gymnasium is bisected by a hallway that will, eventually, connect to the new gymnasium.
Taylor says expenditures are on track, and none of the contingency funds have been spent. The construction schedule is about four weeks behind, thanks to difficulties with some of the subcontractors, but with luck, construction crews hope to be able to make up some of the lost time before the start of school in the fall.