The addition and renovation of Burlington’s is well underway. This week, Patch met with architect Kevin Buckley of KBA Architects for an update on the project. According to Buckley, the project is on schedule to be completed by September 2013, but some phases of the project will come on line before that date.
“We have completed renovations in four classrooms already,” said Buckley.
According to Principal Richard Connors, the first rooms to be renovated were those in the Learning Center and they were completed in early November. Currently, three seventh grade classes are being under construction. When completed, the classrooms have new floors, walls, ceilings, shelving and lighting. Eventually, each classroom will also be outfitted with a smart board.
It is expected that twenty more classrooms will be completed before September 2012. Students are moved into modular units behind the school while their classrooms are under construction. New furnishings and equipment will not be installed until all the classroom renovations are completed over the summer of 2013. Buckley confirmed that the school’s infamously narrow lockers will be replaced with shorter, wider lockers that will better accommodate text books, backpacks and outerwear. This change will also occur over the summer of 2013.
Buckley reported that the school’s kitchen is expected to come online in January 2012, which means that middle school students can expect hot lunches again shortly after the New Year. Currently, the school is serving cold sandwiches and salads, and pizza from a local pizzeria. Buckley also detailed plans for buttoning up the addition before winter weather arrives so that construction can continue unabated indoors. The addition itself is expected to open in May 2012.
The 37,000 square foot addition to the front of the school will include a new front lobby, administrative offices, two computer labs, seven 1200 square foot science labs and a library. The first floor of the addition will also include handicapped bathrooms, student and faculty bathrooms, an open two-story staircase with an expansive skylight above, and an elevator. The second floor boasts a sizable library with sweeping views out of the front of the building. A second smaller addition alongside the chorus room and auditorium will serve as the new band room.
The existing administration area will be remodeled into foreign language classrooms and a conference area for teacher meetings. Currently, foreign language classes are mobile, with teachers traveling from room to room toting their supplies with them.
Connors is pleased with the progress of the renovation and is gratified that the project is on target for key dates such as the opening of the new kitchen and the addition. Connors explained that there have been some changes to bus pickup and drop off locations due to the construction but that with advance planning, there have been no undue problems or delays to the school day.
“I’ve told the construction company that I want to know when things are going to change well before the changes happen,” said Connors. “I want to have 3-4 weeks to get teachers, parents and students ready. So far that’s working.”
Buckley acknowledged that there have been some complaints about noise levels and stated that additional insulation was added along the connecting wall to address the problem. One middle school parent speaking on condition of anonymity said that there have been issues with dust and smoke which have negatively affected her child who suffers from asthma. The Marshall Simonds Middle School Nurse, Mary Connor, R.N., reported no increase in student illnesses due to the construction. Principal Connors agreed, stating that no parents have contacted him to report problems with illness as a result of the project.
“The safety of the children is number one,” said Connors. “If kids were getting sick or their learning was interrupted, the parents would let me or Noreen (Abati) know. That hasn’t happened."