District set to break ground on renovation project, summer 2014
BH-BL district leaders and the Board of Education are excited to announce that the first phase of the voter-approved Building Our 2nd Century Renovations Referendum project is slated to begin this summer, 2014.
For the past several months, district leaders and the Renovations Committee have been working closely with our architects and construction management firm to draft detailed specifications of the 33 separate projects included in the 2013 referendum. The $34.2 million project, overwhelming approved by voters in October 2013, has been submitted to the State Education Department for approval.
Assistant Superintendent for School Support Services Chris Abdoo explains that it is anticipated to take anywhere from 12 to 22 weeks to get approval from SED on a project. If all procedures continue as expected, construction will begin during the summer of 2014.
“Any school district in New York State that is undergoing a renovations or construction project is required by law to submit plans to SED for its approval,” says Abdoo. “Given the lengthy approval turnaround time, we carefully reviewed our list of projects and strategically mapped out a timeline aimed at keeping our renovations project in constant motion.”
Addressing district priorities
The Renovations Committee also wanted to ensure that some of the earliest work to be done included projects that address one of the district’s priorities: Safety and security needs.
Last summer, at the request of many parents, BH-BL installed new electronic locks and a security card entry system at entrances to all five schools to better control access into the buildings during class hours. Secure main vestibules were also constructed at three of the school buildings last summer. This renovations referendum includes the construction of secure vestibules at the remaining two schools.
“We take the safety and security of our students, staff and buildings very seriously,” said Abdoo. “That is why it’s important for us to complete our safety and security initiatives through this referendum by replacing our temporary security measures at Stevens and the middle school, and establishing secure vestibules at the main entrance of each of our schools.”
Phase I planning and projects
When planning the schedule for each construction phase of the 2013 referendum, it was necessary for district officials to account for the State Education Department’s review process and approval time frame. Currently, projects requiring only architectural approval (masonry work, turf field, paving, etc.) have a shorter turnaround time compared to projects requiring engineering and electrical approval (STEAM addition, classroom upgrades and other renovations, etc.).
With that in mind, the district has attempted to schedule projects for Phase 1 that required the least review time in order to maximize the opportunity to begin construction during the summer of 2014.
Phase I includes projects that will begin in June 2014 and are anticipated to be complete in early fall. It also includes projects that will begin in early fall and have an anticipated completion date in early winter 2014.
“The next few years are going to be very exciting as the work in our renovations referendum progresses,” says Superintendent Patrick McGrath. “Yet, while this is happening, it’s of primary importance that we work around our students and staff, and that academic instruction is not interrupted.”
To minimize disruptions to the learning process, the projects that are slated to begin in early fall 2014 will be worked on after school and during the evening. Additionally, there could be some temporary changes to the traffic flow and main entrances at O’Rourke Middle School and Stevens Elementary School during those time frames. More information will be available once work gets underway and temporary plans are put in place.
Here is a list of projects included in Phase I:
Safety & Security needs:
- Reconstruct and repave the traffic circle and parking area at O’Rourke Middle School. This project includes reconstructing the traffic lanes to clearly define the student drop-off/pick-up and thru-traffic lanes to allow for a smoother, safer flow of traffic during peak drop-off and pick-up times. The entire lot will also be repaved, a defined handicap-accessible drop-off area will be constructed, and raised pedestrian walkways will be added to the traffic lanes to allow for safer lane crossing. Also, the parking lot will be reoriented to allow for additional parking spaces. Vehicles will park facing east-west as opposed to the current north-south configuration. (Timeline: June 2014 to early fall 2014.)
- Replace door lock sets at BH-BL High School. For safety and security purposes, a standardized locking system on all interior doors at the high school will be installed. Additionally, some of the oldest doors will be replaced. (Timeline: Early fall 2014.)
- Reconstruct the main entrances at Stevens Elementary and O’Rourke Middle School. This includes the construction of a security vestibule at the middle school. At Stevens, the main office area will be reconstructed to create a more secure visitor entrance. (Timeline: Early fall to early winter 2014.)
- Construct a separate parent drop-off area at Stevens. For some time now, the driveway loop at Stevens, which is used simultaneously by school buses and faculty and parent vehicles, has caused traffic congestion, delays and undesirable student drop-off and pick-up conditions. To alleviate this issue, a separate student drop-off/pick-up loop and short-term parking area will be constructed where the existing blacktop playground area is located. (The blacktop playground area will be moved further back on the property.) A paved walkway leading from the new drop-off/pick-up area to the school’s sidewalk will also be added. (Timeline: Early fall to early winter 2014.)
Critical Infrastructure and Energy Conservation needs:
- Construct a storage building at the high school and raze the original Stevens garage. At the edge of the high school property line, a storage building will be erected and used to store athletic and maintenance equipment previously housed in the old garage structure at Stevens and at the Hostetter Leadership Building (which will eventually be closed and offices moved to the high school). The original deteriorated Stevens garage will be razed to make room for additional parking spaces.
- Replace floor tiles at the middle school. This includes the removal of floor tiles containing asbestos in some of the middle school classrooms and replacing them will new, asbestos-free tiles.
- Reconstruct the pool masonry. The cracked and eroded masonry in the high school pool area will be repaired.
Athletic and Physical Education needs:
- Construct a new synthetic track and multi-purpose turf field, improve lighting. The existing high school track will be replaced with a new 8-lane track and 26-foot sand pit. The current grass football field will be replaced with a wider, multi-purpose artificial turf field. The new field will accommodate soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football teams, and will also be used during physical education classes. (Timeline: Late summer to early fall.)
More referendum information
The entire renovations referendum is expected to be complete by the fall of 2018. For more information and to view a comprehensive list of the 33 projects included in the Renovations Referendum, please use the links in the navigation box on the top right of this page.
We will continue to keep you informed of the progress of the project and share photos on our website and Facebook page. We also encourage you to sign up for our School News Notifier (SNN) system to receive construction information and updates via email. (Select the District News category when signing up.)