Schools ready for first day
Despite a tumultuous summer that has yet to result in a new contract for teachers, it has been reported that the first day of school for public school students in Warwick will go on as planned today and tomorrow.
Across the city, crews were finishing up final touches and readying buildings for the arrival of students, and nowhere was the progress from summer construction more apparent than at Warwick Vets.
Ten days ago, according to reports, classrooms and the corridors of Veterans Memorial Junior High School looked like a bomb had gone off. Ceiling tiles were missing, ladders impeded passage, light fixtures and air vents were hanging down and the dust of construction was everywhere.
On Thursday, however, the floors were shining, the hallways bright with new LED lighting and, with the exception of an area cordoned off as the elevator was tested and boxes piled around the counter at the front office, the school looked ready for classes to start today. What’s more, as the case at schools throughout the district, the teachers were there to meet and go over plans and procedures for the upcoming academic year.
Of all the summer school renovation and construction projects, Vets is the largest at $8.6 million, with the most costly element being the replacement of the steam boiler heating system with a natural gas fired roof top heating and air conditioning system requiring extensive interior duct work and 70 roof-top units. While the HVAC system is ahead of schedule, the work is not projected to be fully completed until next year.
Kevin Oliver, supervisor of the school buildings’ personnel, said the entire 30-member staff concentrated their efforts in readying Vets for the opening of school. They washed the walls, cleaned the windows and stripped and waxed the floors of the 200,000-square-foot building. The building had a new car smell, although it is of 1950 vintage.
Even though the HVAC is partially completed, Oliver notices the difference.
“There’s better air quality, more fresh air,” he said.
Vets’ Principal David Tober said the plan calls for crews to continue working in two classrooms at a time after school and into the evening hours. The schedule is expected to require the relocation of some classes during the process. He projected an enrollment of 863 students, which will jump to 1,200 students next year when Vets and Winman are transitioned to middle schools including grades 6 to 8. As junior high schools they are made up of grades 7 and 8.
Elsewhere in the district, work assessed at $14,500 was completed on a portion of roof that had collapsed due to water damage at Holliman Elementary School. Holliman also had new fire alarms installed, but they won’t be operational for a couple of weeks, so the Warwick Fire Department will be on watch at the building during school hours and any after school activities until they are switched on.
Norwood Elementary also had new fire alarm panels installed, but the system is operational and functioning properly, so the fire department will not need to watch the school while corresponding fire alarm devices are updated.
The new Tides Café addition to the Career and Tech Center, located to the rear of Toll Gate High School, is on pace to be finished at the end of November and had a concrete slab for its inner flooring poured last Tuesday.
The Gorton Administration building needs some “odds and ends” finished, according to Steve Gothberg, director of buildings and grounds, but is otherwise all finished.