New BESPC work progressing toward first day of school
On most construction sites, weather can either help or hinder the progress of the project.
Recent dry weather has helped the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center project pick up for lost time during the wet spring. Whether or not it will open on the first day of school is dependent on the weather during the upcoming six weeks.
“It’s nip and tuck,” said Everett Dexter, superintendent of the project, from Manning Construction Company. “We’re pushing for that goal. That’s what we’re striving for right now. We’re not making any promises yet. We’ve had a lot of weekend activity, so we’re working hard to make it happen.”
Supt. Paul Dorathy has been pleased with the progress of the new building, which is being built at the corner of Elm and Lawrence streets, just southwest of the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center and the new ball field complex.
“It seems like they are making very good progress right now,” Dorathy said. “I think as long as they can keep that up, I think there’s a good chance we can make the date we are shooting for, which is to hopefully to have it open on the first day of school. Right now, there’s no way to nail it down, but they sure seem to be making good progress.”
Elementary morning classes will begin Aug. 17 and the first full day of classes in the district is Aug. 19. The district will need the building completed before Aug. 17, as teachers and staff members will have to move everything from the old building to the new one before classes start. Dorathy said they hope to move into the new building as construction continues.
“We’re hoping they release parts of the building to us,” he said. “So we’ll be able to move stuff into those parts of the building and then as they finish others parts, we can move into those parts, too. It could be kind of a work in progress.”
Work all around and inside the building continues this week. On the outside, construction crews have been building the curbing for the parking lot west of the building.
Crews have also been working on the playground areas east of the school. There will be a hard blacktop area with basketball goals, a large playground, small playground for younger students, a ball field and other grassy areas east of the building.
“The dry weather has helped a lot recently,” Dexter said. “Obviously, it would have helped more if we could have had dry weather when we were working on the concrete and masonry, but it’s a blessing right now. We’ve got a big push going now with the site and that wouldn’t be able to happen with foul weather.”
On the inside, work continues all around the school. One of the more completed rooms is the library and media center, because it is the Federal Emergency Management Agency tornado safe room. It is designed and built to withstand an EF-5 tornado.
“When you get into the FEMA room, you’ll actually start feeling really secure,” Dexter said. “A lot of extra work went into making this room secure. It even has to have special doors on it.”
The gymnasium was the original room chosen to be the be safe room, but the ceiling on the safe room must be built of pre-cast concrete. In order to do that, supports would have to be built in the middle of the room, which would take away gym floor space, according to Dorathy. So the library and media center, which will be able to hold more than 600 people, was chosen instead of the gym.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, those FEMA rooms will be wonderful things,” Dorathy said. “Hopefully, they’re never used, but if they are ever needed, every person in that building will be safe in the media center.”
The other school district construction site is between Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School. The new auditorium construction began this spring with weather problems, but is progressing this summer.
“The performing arts center has been slowed because of some of the rain we’ve had this spring,” Dorathy said. “It’s better now that it’s dried out a bit. If we can keep this dry weather up, that project will move very fast, because they are doing a lot of the site work right now.”