Holmes staff packing for early shutdown, summer-long project

       Now it's Holmes' turn.
       After Bristol and Washington elementaries closed three weeks early to give head starts to reconstruction projects, the middle school on the Mesa will have its last day Wednesday, May 16.
       All other District 11 Westside schools are still slated to end their years May 23.
       The $3.164 million Holmes project will give the school air conditioning, replace the heating/ ventilation and electrical systems and provide upgrades throughout most of the school property.
       Staff was just in the beginning stages of packing their stuff this week, with the biggest educational impacts expected next week when classrooms will be without computers, AV equipment or textbooks for the final three days, Principal Brenda LeBrasse said. However, she added, that impact should be diminished because most of those last days will be taken up with final testing.
       In any case, “all the rooms have to be picked up by May 18,” she said, with boxes either going to the school gym or library - the only two places inside the school that are not scheduled for major work.
       The 18th is when crews from White Construction Group will come in and “rip the dickens out of everything,” LeBrasse summed up. “They have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.”
       Since mid-April, crews with Rocky Mountain Geothermal have been drilling holes in the school playing field just east of the buildings, in preparation for the new climate control system that will provide heating as well as cooling using a network of pipes that go 300 feet underground. Much of the project will involve installing the pipes and ducting for that system throughout the school.
       For safety reasons, the entire campus, including the playing fields, will be shut down for the summer. The project is slated for completion by Aug. 8.
       From May 21 to June 15, the school's administration team - including LeBrasse, assistant principals, counselors and secretaries - will take up temporary residence at West Middle School. This will let them “tend to end-of-the-year business,” including closing the books, record-keeping and hiring, the principal said.
       The project is being funded by a bond issue approved by voters in 2005. Because of increasing materials costs since that time, District 11 had a bit of a struggle affording all the planned costs for Holmes. One amenity which had to be compromised to make the budget work was student lockers. Instead of all new lockers, some will be refurbished older ones. Also, the date for the locker replacement has been pushed back to winter break next year, while the new carpet won't go in until summer 2008, LeBrasse said.

Westside Pioneer article