PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools crews are busy working on summer projects throughout the district.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services, said about half a million dollars worth of repairs, replacements and improvements will be completed by the state of school in August. Projects range from paving parking lots to laying tile to replacing heating and air conditioning systems.
"Summer projects are usually those projects which can't be done while school is in session," Woodward said. "Unless it is an emergency, you can't change floor tile with students present, you can't paint with students present, you can't take out the freezer in the kitchen while students are present."
Photo provided by Wood County Schools
Signs block the way into Blennerhassett Middle School’s cafeteria as crews work on the floors. In addition to regular maintenance projects, Wood County Schools crews are working on $500,000 in summer projects at schools throughout the district.
In some cases it is an issue of safety, while in other instances the projects are simply too disruptive.
For example, Woodward said, crews are replacing the floor in Kanawha Elementary School's kitchen this summer, which would make food preparation impossible.
Roof projects at several area schools, including Jackson Middle, Criss Elementary and Gihon Elementary, require the existing roofs to be removed.
A chiller replacement at Martin Elementary means the entire school's heating and air conditioning system must be taken offline for days at a time.
"You can't shut down the air handling system at a school while students are there," she said.
"It has to be done during the summer."
Woodward said Wood County Schools' maintenance department will complete about $500,000 in repairs, replacements and improvements this summer above and beyond normal maintenance and upkeep. Most work, especially anything involving the interior of a building and classrooms, will be completed before teachers return in mid-August.
Some other projects may continue through the first few weeks of school, provided they don't disrupt classroom learning and can be done safely with students and staff in the building and on the grounds, she said.
Projects are identified through "want lists" submitted by schools and by areas of need identified by the maintenance department.
"Sometimes you have to tell the staff that you are asking for your wants, but we are going to give you your needs," Woodward said. "We try to spread out the wants so that all of the schools are treated fairly. If you get one of your wants this summer, you might not get one next summer. It might be someone else's turn."
Woodward said this summer's roof replacement projects at five area schools are not part of the summer maintenance budget. The school board earlier this year approved $2.7 million in roof repairs and replacements which were considered high-need.
A roof replacement project at Emerson Elementary School has been placed on hold until work is completed at the five other schools.
"We are waiting to make sure we have the money to cover that project before it begins," Woodward said. "Right now we are on track and it is looking good."
Woodward said the delay is in no way related to a recent plan to purchase a property adjacent to the school. That property will later be made into a parking lot and may be used to reroute some school-related traffic off of 36th street.
"The two projects are unrelated. They come from two different pools of money," she said. "It's not the same funds whatsoever."