Schools construction to ramp up in 2019

Chris Campbell, project architect with ZMM, shows a floorplan for a renovated and expanded Williamstown High School during an October meeting of Wood County Board of Education. In the board’s final meeting of 2018, Campbell said work at the school and the Wood County Technical Center will begin in 2019, with both facilities expected to be completed in 2020. (FiIe Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools officials say several construction projects will be taking shape in 2019.

At the Wood County Board of Education’s last meeting of 2018, board members received an update on current construction and the start of new construction in 2019 from Chris Campbell, project architect with ZMM.

The district is in the midst of a massive, county wide construction project, with the building of a new school in Williamstown and renovation and expansion of the Wood County Technical Center in south Parkersburg. In 2017, voters approved a $41 million bond call to facilitate those and other projects.

The board recently announced a delayed opening for the new Williamstown Elementary, which is being built at the site of the former Fenton Art Glass Plant in Williamstown. The need to remediate several areas of the site before construction could begin has delayed the opening from fall 2019 to mid-year 2020.

But Campbell said work on the building has progressed well despite cold and rainy weather, and portions of the building are already under roof, allowing crews to begin wiring and putting in sprinkler systems for those parts of the buildings.

An artist’s rendering shows a renovated and expanded Wood County Technical Center. Officials say the project will be put out to bid in February, with parts of the facility completed in 2019 and the entire building finished by fall 2020. (File Photo)

Along with construction of the new school, officials are looking at expanding Williamstown High School. The school currently serves grades 7-12, but when completed will become a true middle/high school serving grades 6-12.

Campbell said officials are working to make sure the majority of work at the high school is completed for the opening of the new elementary school.

“We’re still focusing on getting the classrooms and the corridor system open and occupiable by January 2020 so it would coincide with the opening of the elementary school,” he said.

“The auditorium and the support areas for the auditorium would be open probably closer to summer time (2020), end of the school year. It could potentially be used at the beginning of summer. That area is not nearly as critical, so we felt this schedule would be bes,” Campbell said.

Bids for the new addition will be in early- to mid-February, with construction expected to begin in March. Campbell said demolition of two houses, located between the school and the Williamstown Public Library where the new addition would be located, would likely begin sometime in January.

Campbell said design for a new addition and renovations to the existing Wood County Technical Center have been completed and likely will be put out for bid in February. Campbell said the schedule for construction is “a little more elaborate” as different shops and classrooms will have to be temporarily relocated as areas are renovated.

“We feel parts of the facility will be complete by summer 2019 and other parts of the facility will be complete in, say, March 2020, with final completion of the rest in summer 2020,” he said. “When school starts in the fall of 2020 the building will be 100 percent.”

Right now, Campbell said, officials are not looking to enclose a connector between Parkerburg South and the tech center. Campbell said the current structure would not support glass walls and complete demolition and building of the connector would put the project over budget.

Since the technical center renovation and expansion is funded partly with money from the state School Building Authority, he said, officials are not allowed to exceed the budget “unless there is a hard commitment to fund that.

“That’s something we can look forward to, but it would be an expensive connector,” Campbell said.

Board members requested some cost projections for a connector project to explore some construction possibilities.