High school renovation project gets under way

June 12, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Just a few days after classes ended at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, furniture is draped in plastic sheets, heating and ventilation units have been cut away from the walls, ceilings are being taken down and much of the machinery is out of the boiler room.

"We're in the mobilization and demolition stage right now," Richard Bender, the district's director of facilities, said of the renovations being done at the nearly 50-year-old school. The upgrades are being paid for with a $12.7 million bond issue, a portion of which are being used for projects at other schools. While students and teachers are taking off the summer, he and a slew of contractors will work over the next three months to get the building ready for the coming school year.

"When school starts, it's going to be a construction site," Bender said. It will be a safe environment, but students will be looking at a maze of wires and pipes above their heads instead of ceiling tiles next fall.


The improvements will continue throughout the school year and into next summer, but when classes are in session, the crews will not come in until after 3:30 p.m., Bender said.

During the summer, however, two shifts will work day and night to get the school ready for opening day, said Bender, who has been director of facilities for about five of his 16 years with the district.

The biggest part of the job, about $9.8 million, is to enhance the building's energy performance, according to Business Manager Rick Vensel. Bender said that includes replacing the heating and ventilation system with a new energy-efficient system that includes air conditioning, new windows, electrical panels and switching gears and lights.

Bathrooms will be remodeled and plumbing upgraded as well, Bender said.

The new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units will change the air in rooms five times an hour and control the temperature of classrooms by judging the indoor and outdoor humidity and temperature. More than three miles of pipes, about 17,000 feet of them, will be installed in the school to operate the system, Bender said.

The system will change from steam to one based on heating and cooling with hot and cold water. Bender said the system will allow, when necessary, rooms on one side of a hall to be cooled while those on the other side are heated.

Because new HVAC units are being added to each of the school's 77 classrooms, asbestos removal accounts for $197,000 of the project. One row of 9-inch floor tiles containing a small amount of asbestos is being removed from each room to accommodate the new units and shelves.

Asbestos abatement is an intricate process involving those plastic sheets and ventilating channels, filtration systems, air sample testing and masks and portable showers for the workers. The tiles are bagged and placed in drums for shipment to a landfill, Bender said.

"The building is primarily windows," according to Bender, who said some 660 single-pane windows will be replaced this summer. "You're going to totally change the look of the high school."

While all that work is going on, the district also is upgrading the wiring for technology at the school with miles of cable and a multimedia distribution system designed to support desktop, wireless and video systems, according to Vensel.

Bender said the work next summer will focus on the administrative and agricultural education wings and the gymnasium. For purposes of continuity, the administrative offices will work out of the renovated library next summer, he said.

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