Compressing an elementary school remodel into two summers is the latest construction challenge for the Bayfield School District.
"For all practical purposes, this will be a brand new school when we're done," Marty Zwisler, the construction manager for the school district, said during a tour of the Bayfield Elementary School construction site on Tuesday.
The construction is part of a $39 million bond to build a new intermediate school for third through fifth grades, then renovate the current BES campus into a K-2 facility. The district received a state grant for $8.5 million to help pay for the construction.
The current BES building was built it 1988, with an addition in 1997. After almost 30 years, it was due for an expansion and remodel, Zwisler explained during the tour. Every classroom is getting new flooring, drywall, paint, and electrical and computer connections. The entrance will be expanded and have a larger drop-off area with up to 35 slots for parents to drop off their kids, avoiding the clogged streets that occurred every day at BES, particularly at the end of the school day. This fall, the parking area is moving to the rear of the school, off Clover Drive, instead of Mustang Drive.
Also new for students this fall will be a larger cafeteria, a turf soccer field and outdoor basketball court, and some brand new playground equipment.
By 2018, an expanded, airier library will be open, along with a new stairway addition into the school, and enhanced security so school staff can see visitors who are entering the building. They currently rely on a video camera at the door.
Another change in the new buildings: seven classrooms for each grade, a number that seems staggering to longtime parents in the district.
But with more and more classes having 130 to 140 students, seven classes is needed to handle future growth in the building, explained Amy Lyons, the district's interim superintendent.
"We didn't want to just meet current needs," Zwisler said. The new building will be able to accommodate 450 students in three grades.
Next on the horizon? Possibly an elementary school in Forest Lakes, but that will be a way down the road, Lyons said. Zwisler estimated this will be the last construction project in the district for about 20 years.
A special consideration for the district was the school garden, which students plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, with volunteers maintaining the plot of land during the summer.
Keeping the space out of the construction zone, along with providing water and electricity for the watering timers, was a bit of a challenge, Zwisler said.
Priorities in designing the classrooms was for lots of storage space, along with connectivity for future computing needs. A consultant who worked with the district on the technology planning was impressed with how the district already uses computers in the classroom, Zwisler said. Each classroom also will have a new sound enhancement system.
Classes at Bayfield High School and Middle School will start on Aug. 22, while BES is being delayed a week for construction and will start Aug. 28.
And there is good news for neighbors of the new campus of the Bayfield Intermediate School being constructed on Oak Drive, Zwisler said.
After weeks of pounding 380 pipes 30 feet into the ground, that work is almost completed, Zwisler said. The contractor, FCI Constructors, was installing about eight pipes per day, requiring constant pounding.