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School upgrades ongoing

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It’s crunch time for school renovations.

As the balanced calendar cuts summer break down to just eight weeks, contractors working on school projects are on tight schedules.

“Construction is not just a summertime thing anymore,” Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Superintendent John Quick said. “It’s a year-round, second-shift schedule. It’s fall break, Christmas break, spring break.”

So as students return to school Monday, some will see a work in progress.

At Southside Elementary, some classrooms won’t have carpeting for several weeks, and engineers are still at work on the track after a recent severe storm caused flooding.

Principal Jeff Backmeyer said the work there was never scheduled to be complete by the start of school, but he’s confident what’s left will not disrupt learning.

“It has been a little challenging, but the staff has been really good, really positive,” he said. “And at the same time, we’re getting some great improvements.”

There’s a new secure front entry that has been completed and most classrooms already have been equipped with doors that lock from the inside. New flooring and new partitions have been installed in all the bathrooms.

“Our custodial staff has worked their buns off to get the dust cleaned up,” he said. “We’ll be ready for our kids.”

The projects are part of $23.5 million in renovations that will transform — at least in some part — 14 of the district’s

18 buildings. Other buildings are also in the final crunch-to-finish stage.

Teachers at Mt. Healthy Elementary were setting up their classrooms while contractors were installing new flooring and applying final layers of colorful paint.

Workers still are finishing up renovations of classrooms, bathrooms and office areas at McDowell Education Center, which will have new flooring, painting, casework and display boards.

The new performing arts addition at Columbus East High School is still underway.

The R.L. Johnson Early Education Center will soon have a completely revamped HVAC system, although renovations there are not totally complete.

Quick said although some parents may be concerned with the construction, it is not new territory for the educators — they know how to be flexible so it does not interfere with learning.

Quick’s office was an art room for six months when he was a principal. Director of Elementary Education Teresa Heiny taught sixth grade on the gym floor at Taylorsville while that building had renovations.

Some BCSC students were in temporary classrooms just a few years ago, so Quick said this year’s work is moderate in comparison.

He said he is optimistic everything will be on schedule when students return Monday.

“Ready or not, kids are going to come,” he said. “We are going to be ready. It may not always be ideal, but it all works out.”

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