The words many local kids are loathe to hear on long, lazy afternoons are now being said with urgency, and legitimacy: Summer vacation is almost over.
This summer, in the Kingston City School District and in particular at Kingston High School, the beginning of a new school year isn’t just marked by the perennial questions about class schedules, homework and where the locker will be. Students may also be wondering what their schools are going to look like when they return.
Much of the heavy work on the district’s $137.5 million Kingston High School Second Century renovation project is supposed to take place over the next several years during those times when students aren’t around, though work will continue to some extent during the next several school years.
That’s proven to be the case with the first large job of the project, renovation and expansion at the Kate Walton Field House. According to Robin Scrodanus of BBL Construction Management, the field house work’s on track to be completed this time next year. Locker rooms on the lower level are due to be completed by the end of 2015, meaning more of an overlap with students than originally anticipated.
“It’s going to extend into the school year,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino this week. “We kind of knew that it would, but I think we’ve managed it in a way that it won’t disrupt classes being held in the building itself. A lot of the work is being done on the exterior.”
The project was updated during a meeting of the Board of Education on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Padalino elaborated on the work in an interview on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
“We did have to move some offices out of there, and relocate our athletic director [Glen Maisch] and coaches’ office so they weren’t impacted,” Padalino said. “It’s going to be going on kind of continuously. One of the things we’re working on, or course, is that we want to not only not disrupt classes in the Field House, but not disrupt classes going on in the building, either.”
Still, with exterior work also happening, the project won’t be completely flying under the radar, even with construction taking place in a secured area away from students.
“An already problematic parking situation is going to get a little worse,” Padalino said. “They lost all that parking on the side by the Field House. But Kirk Reinhardt, our [KHS] principal, has an alternate plan in place for people to park, so it should be something we can handle. The flow of traffic around the Field House will also obviously be impacted. But that shouldn’t be a major thoroughfare anyway. With the arrival of students, the bus loop and walkers in front of the building, that won’t be affected. It’s really the people who drive up past the Field House to park that it will really have the greatest impact on.”
Contracts for the field house work were awarded in July: Jersen Construction Group, a Waterford firm, will receive $3.77 million to serve as the project’s general contractor. Electrical work will be done by Kasselman Electric out of Albany for $972,020. Poughkeepsie-based Dynamic Systems was contracted for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning work for $599,000. Roof work will be performed by Titan Roofing from Springfield, Mass. for $154,000. And two Kingston-based firms — Ashley Mechanical (plumbing) and Ulster County Glass & Mirror (windows, glazing, curtain wall installation in the gymnasium) round out the contractors at $814,570 and $329,600 respectively.
Last week, Scrodanus said that work on the field house swimming pool was mostly completed, with the exception of the installation of custom diving board stanchions, which was due to take place prior to the beginning of the school year. She added that the work on the pool had cost $3,500 less than anticipated.
Padalino said that the district has received very favorable bids for the other work due to begin soon, including the addition of classrooms to the Salzmann Building, the demolition of the Michael J. Myron building and other upgrades and renovations. Padalino said the district had to complete its due diligence, including confirming the numbers with the various prospective contractors, before awarding bids.
“Preliminarily, we were very happy with the bids that came in on the second round of bidding,” Padalino said. “They’re significantly below our budgeted estimate.”
In June, the school board voted against entering into a project labor agreement (PLA) for the project, which would have limited construction bids to union contractors. The vote followed a study by Paul G. Carr, a forensic engineer and professor at Cornell University, who found that a PLA could add between $4.73 million and $11.18 million to the project’s final cost.
On Tuesday, Padalino said that he was pleased with how the process has gone. “We’re really happy with the bids we’ve had so far,” he said. “I think we’ve had a good mix of union labor shops coming in. I think our first round of bidding the majority of contracts were awarded to union shops. The PLA wasn’t about wanting non-union work; it was about opening up the bidding process, which is what we wanted to see.”
While most demolition and construction on campus isn’t due to occur until next spring, Padalino said contractors will likely begin preliminary work soon after contracts are awarded.
“It’s an ongoing process,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a couple of other things start to happen over the next few weeks and months. You’ll see people out there measuring for footprints for the new wing, looking to hopefully get some of the steel measured out, readied, planned and starting to get on site for the new wings to get erected during the school year this year.”
But Kingston High isn’t the only construction zone in the district. A number of facilities are having work done this summer. In May 2013, voters in the district approved a $6.95 million capital project due to be completed this summer. Included in the scope of the work is the replacement of roofs in the main building at both Kingston High and Ernest C. Myer Elementary; boiler replacement at George Washington Elementary School and M. Clifford Miller Middle School; replacing ceilings throughout Miller; exterior site work at Chambers Elementary School; and improving emergency lighting and handicapped access to buildings across the district.
“Several of them are ahead of schedule and wrapping up this week,” Padalino said. “George Washington was one building where there was a lot of extensive work in there … GW, I wouldn’t say we’re behind because we’re on schedule. But we knew it was a tight timeframe to get the work that needed to be done there done. And some of the work in the basement will still be going on when school starts. They’re there seven days a week. They’re handing over the second floor to us this week, and we should be able to bring in teachers next week and be ready for kids on the 8th [of September].
Some neighboring school districts are set to return to school next week, but Kingston won’t begin classes until after Labor Day weekend. The extra time has proven to be helpful for teachers, who need some time before students arrive to prepare their classrooms.
“It really has helped with our first day of school being the week after next instead of next week like it is for many school districts,” Padalino said. “It gives us that next week to really make sure everything is where it is supposed to be. And then it gives teachers the week after to come in, not only for the professional development days, but also Monday and Tuesday to be in the buildings and be in the rooms.”