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Good communications a must during construction projects

April 10, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

Asbestos abatement and work on the existing floors last year at James Buchanan Middle School in Tuscarora (Pa.) School District created dust and dirt that became trapped in the original 1950s building which was surrounded by new construction.

"It just took us a while to get on top of that situation," District Superintendent Thomas Stapleford said.

The renovations were "sometimes dirtier and noisier than people expected," he said.

Stapleford said the primary thing the district could do better, if starting its three-school renovation project over again, would be communicating the progress to the community.

Gettysburg Area School District Superintendent David Mowery, who oversaw the construction of a $41 million high school in the 1990s, echoed that thought. Mowery said he would insist on having a video with a virtual walk-through of the proposed design of the school.

Stapleford would have preferred to close the schools during construction. Instead, students and staff were shuffled around the buildings, sometimes with only a day's notice.

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The Gettysburg Area School District vacated buildings as they were renovated in the 1990s.

"In our facilities, we've never done any projects around kids," Mowery said. "It's more reasonable if you do it faster."

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