Construction causing movement within Seaford School District

By Ronald MacArthur

Moving in and moving out - that is the best way to describe what is going on in the Seaford School District. Because of construction taking place in every school, staff has been transplanted to other schools for the summer. The high school and West Seaford Elementary School were closed on June 7, the last day of school, so construction crews could move in first thing the next morning to start work. Crews are on a strict timeline. In fact, the start of school in the district has been delayed from the normal last week of August to the first day after Labor Day in September to allow more time for crews to complete their work. The work is being funded with $8.7 million ($2 million local share) approved to be spent during a referendum passed by district voters in April 2005. High school administrators, secretaries and guidance counselors have moved to the middle school and the same West Seaford staff members have hung out their temporary shingle at Blades Elementary School. Crews will begin work at Central Elementary School once the balanced calendar schedule reaches its break next week (the intercession classes in June and July will take place at Blades Elementary). The work is expected to be completed in mid-August in time for the return of students who attend the balanced calendar schedule (full-year) at the school. High school summer school students (summer school starts on June 19) will attend classes at the middle school. All elementary summer school students will attend classes at Blades Elementary. Confused yet? "So are we," said Mellie Kinnamon with a laugh. Kinnamon is the director of human resources and public information for the district. She is going out with a bang as she plans for retirement to start on June 30. "It was pretty hectic around here on the last day of school," she said. "At 2:35 p.m. when the students left the high school, the school literally had to be emptied. It's going to be a busy summer." Every room with tile had to cleared out at the high school and West Seaford because part of the work at the schools is the removal and replacement of the school's floor tiles made with asbestos. The custodial staff worked until 9 p.m. on June 7 and then was at it again on dawn June 8 to finish moving .

Roy Whitaker, chief of buildings and grounds for the district, said that he is not planning to take any vacation time off this summer. "We will have everything completed by the start of school in September," he said emphatically. Whitaker said one of the major projects taking place will address a concern of students, staff and parents. All six schools will have dehumidification equipment added to classrooms (the libraries already have the equipment in place). "We had the equipment on loan to us last year and we put it in place for a test at West Seaford," Whitaker said. "In the section of the school we tested, the humidity dropped an average of 15 points. The air quality in our schools is going to improve significantly." The following is the scope of work planned for the next three months or already under way: Middle school - Work in the middle school includes the construction of an auxiliary gymnasium, addition of dehumidification equipment, renovation of the locker rooms (for the first time in 50 years) and complete modernization of the kitchen in the cafeteria (for the first time in 50 years). Work at the middle school started around the time of spring break. "All food for the middle school has been transported from the high school," Whitaker said. "It's been a ton of extra work for the staff, but that's the cost of progress." High school - Work at the high school includes replacement of all floor tiles, the addition of a new 350-ton chiller, addition of dehumidification equipment, renovation of a few bathrooms and addition of air conditioning in the hallways. "We've added air conditioning in the gym, but it was never in the hallways - now the high school will be totally air conditioned," Whitaker said. West Seaford - Floor tiles are also being removed and replaced at West Seaford Elementary School and dehumidification equipment is being placed in the school. Central Elementary - Floor tiles in the front third of the school will be removed and replaced (other areas will be worked on next year), dehumidification equipment will be added and new ceilings and lights will be added to each classroom. "It will be a huge improvement in the classes," Whitaker said. Not all of the floor work can be done at the school; students return in mid-August because of the school's balanced calendar schedule. Frederick Douglass Elementary - In addition to dehumidification equipment, some bathroom renovation work will be done. Blades Elementary - Major construction work has been ongoing at Blades Elementary since this past winter. Two new classrooms and a new gym are being constructed. Whitaker said that having summer school students take over the school later this month will create a few construction scheduling issues. "We might have to work some nights and weekends, but the work will get done," he said.

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