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June 12, 2013

Construction underway at FHS as part of district’s 2012 bond projects

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

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The Ferndale High School auditorium is undergoing remodeling this summer as part of the 2012 Ferndale schools bond projects. The auditorium is getting a new ceiling, new lights, fresh paint, a refurbished stage and a new soundproof vestibule entryway.

FERNDALE — With Ferndale students almost done with classes for the school year, construction has already begun at Ferndale High School as part of the 2012 Ferndale Public Schools bond projects.

Work on the school’s pool and surrounding area began in April, construction on the auditorium got underway at the end of May and work on the third floor where the middle school classrooms are located will begin when school lets out June 17.

The 7-mill bond renewal passed by a significant margin in February 2012, with almost 70 percent of voters approving the proposal that will bring $22.8 million dollars into the school district through 2041. Nearly 70 percent of the proposed bond funds are targeted at FHS, with the biggest chunk being $5.2 million to remove asbestos from the ceilings and replace all ceilings and lighting.

“The high school serves the majority of our K-12 students and they all go through that building at one time or another,” Stephanie Hall, community relations director for the school district, said. “It is our biggest facility and there are some major projects that needed to be done, and the asbestos removal requires quite a bit of construction.”

The school’s auditorium will be getting the biggest overhaul, as the only work done to the auditorium since it was built in the late 1950s was the replacement of seats in 2004 and some repainting.

Bruce Bethuy, the bond projects coordinator, said on top of the removal of asbestos and a new ceiling and lighting — like the rest of the building — the auditorium will also get new curtains, air conditioning, a revived stage and a proper vestibule entrance.

In the more than 50 years since it was built, the auditorium has had an accordion door that has not kept out noise from the common area on the other side. The new entrance will have a door from the common area into a vestibule and another door from the vestibule to the auditorium, to give the room as much outside-noise reduction as possible.

“We are basically gutting everything, from lights and rigging to curtains and mechanical equipment,” Bethuy said. “Fine arts are strong and important in Ferndale between the performing arts and theatrical program, so these updates are long overdue. We want to make the auditorium more useful in general and we are not changing any of the physical attributes, but all the internal workings of it.”

The pool itself will be getting some upgraded piping, as well as new filtration and air handling technology. The pool tank will be getting new bleachers, along with the new ceiling and new lighting.

“Over 50 years, a lot of the piping has been battered over time and we have repaired it and cobbled it together, but it is time for an upgrade with some current technology,” Bethuy said. “The pool not only gets use from the students, but it gets a lot of community use, too. There are a number of other swimming clubs and groups that use that pool and, hopefully, they will be pretty pleased with it when we are done.”

The third floor of the school building will see classrooms getting new floor tiling, as well as air conditioning, which will eventually be placed throughout the entire building. Work on the other classrooms on the first and second floors will take place over the next school year and next summer, with some classrooms being relocated during the construction.

The other 30 percent of the bond proposal funds will cover items that are necessary for health, safety and systems infrastructure at the other buildings in the district, such as kitchen remodeling at University High School and Roosevelt Primary School. However, the citizens bond committee reviewed all the things needed and showed the FHS building needed the most work.

“The (high school campus) site is used for (the) most district-wide events, such as musicals, open houses, town hall meetings, dance recitals and athletic competitions,” Hall wrote in the bond’s FAQ. “Today’s small children will be tomorrow’s users of these facilities. Improvements to this facility would eventually benefit all district students.”

Construction on the pool is scheduled to be done by mid-to-late August, in time for the swim teams to practice, while the third floor should be completed in time for the new school year in the fall. The upgrades to the auditorium are scheduled to be completed at the beginning of October.

For more information on the 2012 Ferndale bond projects, visit www.ferndaleschools.org, hover over the “About Us” menu and click “Bond.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.