What’s the purpose of the Blue Hall construction?
What we wanted to do was… kind of this vision to have this STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) wing, and give folks a space to do some interdisciplinary work. What we’re going to do is move — on the other end of the Blue Hall we have photography down there, we have Mr. Stroh with the Project Lead the Way classes, and Mr. Vielhauer — he’s got media — that’s actually gonna be a new media space up off the library. What we’re gonna do is move the art and Project lead the Way classes down the hallway so that everything’s together in one wing. That’s gonna help folks work better together, and they’re gonna get new learning spaces — state of the art technology, state of the art learning environments — classrooms will look a little different than they look now. Things will mesh a little better.
What areas of the school will be impacted by the construction?
Since they’re gonna be — this is serious work — they’re taking the floors out, they’re pretty much going right down to the dirt in that Blue Hallway — and they’ll be putting in new infrastructure — I think they’re actually putting new beams in the ceiling — the ceiling of the Blue Hallway would hold up the Red Hallway. Most of that structural work is gonna be done over the summer. That’s the plan. Things don’t always go according to plan. So the hope is that anything that would affect the science classrooms in the Red Hallway will be done before school starts in September. So hopefully [the impact] will be minimal on science [classrooms]. That said, if something fell behind, there could be some challenges using some of the science classes at the start of the year. We’re hopeful that’s not gonna be an issue. It should be contained in that Blue Hallway.
When is the construction expected to be finished?
The end date for the construction — it’s a big project, and they are going to be working in different spaces — so like I said, the first phase is that Blue Hallway underneath the science wing, and then what they’re gonna do is — when they finish that, which will hopefully be towards the end of the school year next year — then over the summer next year, they’re actually gonna create the photography space and the Project Lead the Way space on the other end. They’re gonna turn [the old photography and Project lead the Way space] into social studies classrooms to make up for the social studies classrooms we’re losing in the other [side of the] Blue Hallway. That work is supposed to happen next summer — not this summer, but next summer. The deadline for the project would be the summer of 2022. Hopefully when we come back to school in 2022, everything’s done. That’s the plan. Things don’t always go according to plan, but that’s the plan.
How is the school handling the displacement of teachers? What about the art teachers who had all their supplies in their rooms?
It’s a big challenge . . . I’m not gonna lie. Really what we’re doing is we’re just gonna be getting a lot more friendly — we’re gonna be working a lot more closely together. Typically during planning periods, folks might have no students in their rooms, and now what we’re doing is during planning periods, those other spaces are going to be utilized in those rooms. We’re gonna be utilizing all of our rooms more — right now if you walk around the hallways during second period — you might see, oh, there’s a room here that has nobody in it, there’s a room here that has nobody in it, because that was the teacher’s planning period, and we didn’t have to put somebody in there. But we’re gonna be kind of utilizing those spaces, which is a bit of a challenge, because folks are gonna have to move, and it’s not easy if you teach second period in one room, it’s not easy to start the next class in a different room — you know, you’ve gotta move your laptop, open up new stuff, get set up on the board — and so, it’s not ideal for transitions, but it’s what we’re gonna have to do next year.
Will the construction impact students in terms of noise throughout the school day?
We’ve thought about that, and the plan would be for that to be minimal. Part of everything we do when we’re planning is: How do we minimize distractions from the learning environment? So most of the loud things that’ll have to happen will happen [during the] second shift, so they’ll happen after the students leave. We’ll certainly be cognizant of noise — they’ll put up barriers, so that’ll absorb some of the work they have to do. But yes, if something was noisy, I’m sure I would get a call or Mr. Gasparini would get a call — we might have to go down and talk to somebody and say, “Look, you know, I know you guys gotta get this done, but maybe that’s not gonna get done for a couple more hours until we wrap up our day.” But we usually work together with people — this isn’t the first time we’ve worked with contractors in the building — the auditorium was done recently, and there were obviously some loud things that needed to be done there, but what they did was they sectioned it off, they built a wall, and then if [there was] any noise, we might have to walk down there and say, “Can we do this at another time?”
Will the entrance by the main gym still be available for use?
Nothing’s gonna change with the main gym. The main gym will stay the same, the main entrance will stay the same. It’s really gonna be localized. M0st of the work is gonna happen in the Blue Hallway, and then there’s some scheduled work that’s gonna happen this summer where the computer labs are — upstairs at the Four Corners. We’ve got the G14 and the G16 and the testing center. That whole space is gonna get revamped. But that’s supposed to happen this summer, and that should hopefully be done before school starts.
How much of the school budget from taxes is going toward the construction cost?
I don’t know exact numbers offhand, but what I can tell you is that it shouldn’t really affect tax numbers at all — usually the philosophy behind these things are — we had a project that we probably did, you know, maybe 15 years ago or 20 years ago that we were paying for — the payments for that project stopped, and now we’re starting this project, and it should be pretty flat. We’re not looking to add on to anything that we weren’t already doing. So it should be minimal if anything. There really shouldn’t be a big impact on taxes That’s usually the way these things work.