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Work done this summer to enhance schools

Renovation and repair projects done this summer to enhance schools

Students and teachers at 27 schools may have noticed something different about their campus when they returned to class to begin the 2021-2022 academic year.

Crews spent time over the summer taking care of various renovation and repair projects, everything from parking lot paving to roofing work.  Some projects are more visible than others; it is easy to notice when a school’s interior has been painted while it might not be as obvious when a new generator has been installed.

Regardless of the visibility of the work that has been done, all of the effort is a step toward providing students and teachers with even better school facilities, according to Dr. Morgen Houchard, executive director for auxiliary services.  Houchard’s team is responsible for identifying necessary renovation and repair projects and working to make them happen.

Projects are listed in more than a dozen categories.  Life safety, lighting, media centers, flooring, outdoor drainage, and painting are a few of them.  The list also includes work on pump grease traps at 54 schools (equipment that “traps” grease and oil from wastewater in kitchens before the water gets to the sewer lines) and wastewater/sewer lift stations at 24 schools.

Below is a list of the projects and schools:

▪ Dining Room Renovation
Hunter Huss High School

▪ Elevator Renovations
Ashbrook High School
Southwest Middle School

▪ Flooring
Hawks Nest STEAM Academy
Lowell Elementary School
Mount Holly Middle School
South Point High School
Webb Street School

▪ Generator Installation
Brookside Elementary School
Cramerton Middle School
Forestview High School
Sadler Elementary School

▪ LED Lighting
Cherryville High School
Forestview High School
Highland School of Technology
Webb Street School

▪ Libraries/Media Centers
Lowell Elementary School
Mount Holly Middle School (in design process)

▪ Life Safety (cameras, intercoms, security systems, fire alarms)
Bessemer City High School
Carr Elementary School
New Hope Elementary School

▪ Outdoor Drainage Improvements
Ashbrook High School
Bessemer City High School
East Gaston High School
Forestview High School
Rankin Elementary School

▪ Painting and Locker Renovation
Webb Street School

▪ Parking Lot Paving and Design
Bessemer City High School

Bessemer City Middle School
Catawba Heights Elementary School (in design process)
Gardner Park Elementary School (in design process)
Hunter Huss High School (in design process)

▪ Roofing Design
Bessemer City Middle School
Cramerton Middle School
Forestview High School
Holbrook Middle School
Kiser Elementary School
Pinewood Elementary School
Springfield Elementary School

▪ Tennis Courts
South Point High School

Additionally, another summertime project focused on the installation of a four-camera system in all yellow school buses.  The system helps to monitor behavior and safety and aids in the COVID-19 contact tracing process.  

While much work was done this summer, Houchard said some of the projects are in the development stages and will be completed in the months ahead.  He said funding for the repair and renovation projects comes from the 2018 school bond referendum and funds set aside for routine maintenance.

“It is an investment in our schools for sure,” said Houchard.  “We are pleased to be making progress on addressing our critical facility needs, but there is more work to be done.  We look forward to using our school bond funds to continue efforts to enhance our school buildings and make them the best they can be for our students, teachers, and the community.”

Chris Mills, principal at Webb Street School, said the new LED lighting, new flooring, and fresh coat of paint on the building’s interior walls have made a significant difference for the school’s look and atmosphere.      

“Our students, staff, and parents were amazed when they came into the building and saw how much work had been done this summer,” said Mills.  “It is a welcomed transformation.  With the new lighting, flooring, and painting, we feel like we have a new school.  It looks wonderful.”

Perhaps the most visible construction project came to fruition this summer with the completion of the new Belmont Middle School.  The school held its grand opening celebration on August 15 and welcomed students and staff for the first day of school on August 23.  Click here to read about the new Belmont Middle School.

The new Belmont Middle School replaces the historic building on Central Avenue near downtown Belmont that was used as a school campus for eight decades.  Belmont Middle is the third new school for Gaston County Schools in five years.  

The new Pleasant Ridge Elementary School opened in August 2017 and houses the district’s Gifted and Talented Academy for elementary school students.  The larger Pleasant Ridge building was designed to facilitate the merger of Forest Heights and Rhyne elementary schools with Pleasant Ridge.  Click here for information about the opening of Pleasant Ridge Elementary.  

In March 2018, Stanley Middle School held its grand opening with the new facility being built on the old football field.  When the new building opened, new athletic fields were built where the old school once stood.  Essentially, the campus “flipped” with the building now at the back of the site and the athletic fields at the front of the property.  Click here for information about the opening of Stanley Middle School. 

Now, attention turns to the next school campus construction project.  In August, the Board of Education approved a resolution requesting the approval and appropriation of additional school bond funds from the county.  In the resolution, the Board indicated its intention to use a portion of the next allocation of funds for the construction of a new Grier Middle School in Gastonia.