High school renovations on track to finish early in school year
One by one, large metal pieces of the elaborate scaffolding that filled the Moffat County High School auditorium are being removed.
On Aug. 31, the dust cloths covering the seats will be replaced by MCHS students who will attend a welcome back meeting in a space that has been closed for several months after a damaging fire.
“We’re pretty excited about having an auditorium to start the year off,” MCHS principal Thom Schnellinger said.
After a February fire, which law enforcement officials ruled as arson, students were no longer allowed in the damaged auditorium.
Schnellinger said the school had difficulties with large assemblies.
They often had to split classes up for guest speakers, or hold assemblies in the gym.
“It was a real loss not to have that auditorium,” he said.
The auditorium has a high ceiling with lighting rigs and catwalks for reaching the lighting and sound equipment.
A false ceiling hangs from several large wires over the audience portion of the auditorium.
The higher ceiling was damaged as the fire swept across the space, from the back lighting booth up to the stage.
General contractor Haselden Construction is in charge of the project, which has cost an estimated $700,000.
District financial director Mark Rydberg said the $700,000 is covered under the school’s insurance policy, except for a $10,000 deductible.
Rydberg said the scaffolding is being removed and construction workers will be finished with major work by Aug. 28. Some minor painting and cleaning might continue into the school year, but the auditorium will be usable by the first day of classes.
A focus on security
Haselden also is involved with a second construction project at MCHS.
One half of the project involves an overhaul of the HVAC system and an update of the boilers.
Rydberg said the project will continue into October, but workers will be out of any instructional space by the beginning of school.
But a more obvious change will be completed by the first day of school.
With security always a concern in schools, Schnellinger said having a controlled main entrance is important for the safety of the students.
“Security is a huge issue because of events like Columbine,” he said. “All schools are re-evaluating.”
An apparatus currently is being built to funnel visitors past an office where they will have to check in during school hours.
All other doors will remain locked during the school day.
The entrance will be opened at lunchtime, as the school will remain a partially open campus.
Juniors and seniors still will be allowed to leave at lunchtime, but a staff member will be stationed at the door.
“The building used to be completely open,” Schnellinger said. “It’ll be a big change. But we have to be careful with allowing people into our corridors.”
The HVAC overhaul and security doors are combined under one project, which will cost an estimated $500,000 in bond issue funds.
Schnellinger said he is looking forward to the changes that will appear as the new school year begins.
“Really, what we’re trying to push forward is that it’s the students who are our ultimate resource,” he said.
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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