By Olivia Battles
When were the first plans made for the construction?
“The first plans were made three years ago, and we were supposed to start over a year ago but the plans were delayed due to the need to adjust the foundation of the building because the state redesigned the floodplain which meant that our building needed to be higher than originally planned.”
Is there a plan to address distractions, such as the noise and shaking, made by the construction?
“We don’t have a way to avoid any of that, it’s something that we will have to get used to. What we will do when the permanent pilings are being put in, which should happen late fall to early winter, is we’ll do some notification to students, staff and the surrounding neighborhood so people can have more time to get ready for the noise.”
When were the first plans made for the construction?
“First was knocking down the building, and that took place in July and August. Now we are preparing the foundation, sometime in spring to summertime they will start putting up parts of the building. The entire project will take two years and along the way, there may be delays, whether it’s a discovery of something unexpected or weather may also play a factor in causing some delays. We have a general timeline and general idea of the phases but we also anticipate that we will have some unexpected delays.”
What is your plan to mitigate the effects of the construction, such as the dust, air pollution, noise pollution, and physical equipment, on the students?
“With dust, the contractor will be spraying water to keep the dust to a minimum. With the noise, we are working on some plans related to the noise and hope to have those in place as necessary when we start driving the pilings. That will cause the largest amount of noise when driving the pilings. For the construction of the building itself, there will be machinery trucks and cement mixers, that type of thing, but it will be minimal compared to what we need to do to install the foundation.”
Are you aware that the food trucks didn’t provide vegetarian options at the beginning of the year and often run out of the most popular food?
“I was aware that the food trucks were not serving vegetarian options at the beginning of the year, we’ve corrected that and we’ve actually increased the quantity of vegetarian food being offered. Running out of the most popular food is always something that is hard to plan for, but technically we never run out of food. There is always food for students to eat, now is it their first choice? perhaps not, but there is always food available. As we go through this process there are two words that I ask of people to use while we go through the construction process; that is patience and flexibility because this is new for everybody. As we learn of issues we will make adjustments to mitigate it and hopefully reduce or eliminate any issues. I know, recently, we’ve talked to our food service department for the district and addressed the vegetarian options and we’ve talked to a couple of students who we know are vegetarian and we’ve talked to them about how they can go about getting a meal that meets their dietary needs.”
In your opinion, do you think a smoothie is a meal?
“In my opinion, no, but according to the federal guidelines for what is a meal at a school it is. Do I agree with it? No, but I didn’t write the law.”
Is there a plan for when it rains, will the students have to line up for the food truck in the rain?
“There is a plan. We will be purchasing more tents so that the student can line up inside of a tent, so they won’t have to stand in the rain.”
Are you concerned about the additional traffic being driven to the front of the school since there is no back parking lot?
“Yes, I am concerned, and I have addressed this twice with the parent community. Once through parent square and the second time during back to school night. I asked parents to be more cautious and to follow the laws that are related to driving; to pay attention, no looking at their cellphones, don’t stop in the crosswalk, don’t double park. So, we have addressed this with the parents.”
Do you have plans to have the students and parents updated on the progress of the construction?
“Yes, and as we go through the various phases of construction information will be shared, not only with the parents but with the students and staff as well.”
What will be the biggest benefit that the students will notice for the construction?
“Unfortunately, the current student body will not benefit from the building, so eighth graders are going to miss out on it and most likely the seventh graders will miss out on the new building as well. There may be about a month and a half to two months where they can benefit from the new building, but it’s a good chance that it won’t happen. The end result though, having a brand new building, with new facilities, new kitchen, gym, cafeteria, new locker room, it’s going to be an incredible opportunity for generations of students. The old locker room was around for nearly one hundred years, so the opportunity to have a building that will be around for another hundred years is something that I’m looking forward to. We have to go through a time where it’s not going to be easy for us but I believe the end result will be worth the time and inconvenience.”