Southern Door cuts back building work

Southern Door School board on Monday, Aug. 7 at least temporarily eliminated a greenhouse and bus-repair garage from its capital-improvements list that voters approved last November.

A press release from the board indicated that increased estimated costs in some of the Phase 1 projects, as well as the need to replace the aging, large mound septic system for the high school and the elementary treatment system with a combined system, contributed to the elimination of an $830,000 garage and a $267,000 greenhouse.

The board was informed of a slight cost increase from a previous $1.1 million estimate for the septic system and estimated costs that are coming in at “more than expected” for a fitness center including a 40-yard indoor practice facility with artificial turf and ceilings high enough for football, softball and baseball practices, said district Business Manager Jason Melotte. The practice facility project, the heart of the Phase 2 work, remains intact.

“The Southern Door Board of Education elected to focus on student-facing aspects of the referendum, such as renovations to the high school family and consumer science classroom and the elementary and middle school art classrooms,” the release from the board read.

“The bus garage and greenhouse are just not part of this next phase,” Melotte added. “It doesn’t mean that they are a total no-go. If we have enough funds left after Phase II we might do one or both.”

Southern Door students will return to classes for three days prior to Labor Day rather than after the holiday weekend, partly to settle in and partly to accommodate the construction project.

Melotte said that by the time students return, the work that will have been completed at the school includes the abatement of interior asbestos in two portions of the school, the renovation and expansion of the elementary and middle school art rooms, the upgrade and rebuild of home-economics kitchens, the construction of a new district office and the paving of a larger front parking lot.

“Most everything is on schedule. The parking lot is actually a little ahead, so we’ll have that finished up and actually open on the 14th,” Melotte said in early August, referring to a lot that’s modernized and growing from fewer than 40 spaces to more than 160, thanks in part to the demolition of the old, stand-alone district office building.

Melotte said district officials had some difficulties acquiring new desks and furniture for the family and consumer education (FACE) classrooms and the elementary and middle school art rooms. To start out the year, students may use some chairs and desks they had from this past school year.

Asbestos abatement – including the safe removal of all original asbestos flooring – took a lot of time in the spring in the art room, and delays in receiving some transformers temporarily held up the installation of electric and appliances for the FACE classroom. The cost came in at about $1.3 million for the FACE room reconstruction, which includes expansion by the removal of an old office, the removal of dated green countertops and appliances, and the installation of all-new, stainless-steel countertops, storage and appliances with digital controls for five household-style kitchens and one commercial kitchen for student learning.

Melotte said Miron Construction should complete the district office space Aug. 16 or 17. It won’t have a lot of new furniture because salvageable desks, cabinets, electronic equipment, shelves and a conference table will make the move to the new offices. They’re located at the front and center of the school, using space previously occupied by the fitness center. As in the consumer-education area, they did not salvage the green-laminate countertops.

The art rooms are picking up about 200 square feet of learning space because contractors removed storage rooms located between the middle school and elementary art rooms. New cabinets will provide storage in the art rooms, and the use of an unused elementary locker room just across the hallway for art-supply storage will more than make up for the lost space. 

The new kiln room – fire rated and up to code – will occupy a former storage area inside that locker room. Erasable whiteboards will cover the art rooms’ front walls, and the side walls can serve as bulletin boards and display areas.

“These walls will be tackable surfaces, so they’ll be able to tack anything they want on the walls,” Melotte said. “There will be track lighting around the room mounted on steel cable, and they’ll be able to hang things from the cable. You’re not supposed to hang anything from the ceiling.”

Melotte anticipates completion of the art rooms on Aug. 20 and the FACE room on approximately Aug. 27 – three days before school starts.

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original to correct prices for the garage and greenhouse, which had been transposed in the original story.

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