The construction of two new school buildings in the Athens City School District is progressing as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic.
ACSD superintendent Tom Gibbs and various school board members said the project had not experienced any delays and should be completed on time.
The buildings will be for kindergarten through third grade classes.
“Our current primary school facilities pose many challenges, with outdated heating and air conditioning systems, poor ventilation, lack of natural light in many classrooms, plumbing issues, and more,” Gibbs said in an email.
Gibbs said construction workers are following standard COVID-19 protocol on site, including hand washing, physical distancing, wearing masks and not showing up for work if they have any symptoms. symptoms.
Gibbs said the biggest challenges come from the ground at job sites.
“We had to spend extra money to add lime to the ground at Morrison-Gordon and to excavate part of the East ES (elementary school) site and backfill with stone to ensure the soils would be stable enough,” did he declare. in an email.
The project is expected to be completed in mid-September 2021, Gibbs said. ACSD is expected to have occupancy approval in July 2021 to begin using the buildings for the next school year.
“The new configuration will allow us to distribute our student population more evenly based on socio-economic status,” he said in an email. “Research in this area demonstrates that having less than 50% of families living in poverty attend a specific school translates to better academic outcomes for all students.”
Gibbs said local voters approved a $60.5 million bond draw for the project, of which $35 million has already been allocated.
ACSD School Board Chair Sean Parsons said many improvements will be made to these new buildings.
“This (build) is starting to solve a lot of the problems we have in our aging and failing school buildings,” Parsons said. “They’re going to be healthier, they’re going to be a lot more well-lit, they’re going to be a lot more energy efficient, so we’ll have that advantage for us.”
Parsons said it would also change the way the school district is organized by having two K-3 buildings instead of four K-6 buildings.
“It’s just going to be more efficient and fully upgraded, and it’s going to be the kind of spaces our kids deserve to learn in,” he said.
Parsons said there have also been few complaints from the community about the construction, and other than occasional weather delays, everything is going according to plan.
“We’re also coming in safely…we don’t want any children getting hurt during construction,” he said.
ACSD school board member Kim Goldsberry said all of the unionized workers who were hired for the project were mostly locals. Goldsberry said those who don’t return home at night stayed in local hotels.
“There were a few days where it rained,” she said. “But they were working on Saturdays so they could catch up.”
Goldsberry also talked about improvements that would be made to the new buildings, including larger classrooms and better ventilation.
“On the East site, there are water holding tanks that are buried in two different places on the site,” she said. “So when we have significant rainfall, all of that water doesn’t just go to the streets on the east side of the city and flood our city infrastructure. It is housed in these holding tanks and then slowly fed into the city’s water filtration system. »