Students move out, construction moves in

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 5, 2017

ST. CLAIR SHORES — When students left for the summer June 15, workers moved into several schools in the Lake Shore Public Schools district to begin renovations, paid for with the $35 million bond issue approved by voters in May 2016.

Lake Shore Public Schools Superintendent Joe DiPonio said that Lake Shore High School teachers were warned at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year that now would be a “great time to purge” so that unnecessary things wouldn’t have to be moved out, stored and moved back in. Lake Shore High School will be under construction for about two years, DiPonio said, with work continuing into summer 2018.

DiPonio said that the bulk of the work at the high school is related to installing air conditioning and to improving the electrical infrastructure to support student Chromebooks as the district moves to one device to one student this fall, as well as better wi-fi.

Similar work is being done at Kennedy Middle School, where students will also receive Chromebooks in September, and at Rodgers Elementary School. Elementary students are not receiving devices this year, but will in the future.

Wayne Satterfield, director of facilities for Lake Shore Public Schools, said it costs about $50,000 per building to move all of the belongings out of the schools to make way for the renovations and upgrades.

Temporary flooring is also being laid in the buildings to protect the current flooring from the work where it is not being replaced.

“We can’t do all the work at once,” DiPonio said. “What we’re hoping to do is create some usable areas to help students and staff live through the work.”

Satterfield said that the district is taking some spaces at the high school that are not being used to their fullest potential — like a metal shop that is not being used at all and a TV studio that is much too large for the students’ use — and converting them into more classrooms. The metal shop alone is being converted into a science, technology, engineering and math lab and three additional classrooms, while the TV studio will be turned into two classrooms. The TV studio will be moved to another space in the school.

“Structurally, our buildings will be in much better shape,” DiPonio said. “We’ll have them outfitted for the one-to-one initiative and it’ll be a little cooler.”

At Kennedy Middle School, work started a couple of months ago during the afternoon shift after students left for the day. Workers would complete prep work above the ceilings and replace the ceiling tiles before students arrived for the following school day.

The parking lot is now filled with semi-trucks containing all of the school’s furniture and other items.

“We’re doing a lot of flooring replacement here, so we had to take everything out,” Satterfield said.

All carpet in the school is being replaced, and a new HVAC system with air conditioning is going into the school, as is new electrical infrastructure to support the one-to-one initiative.

Walking through the school is like stepping into a ghost town as every room is bare to the walls, except for the main office.

Workers are also removing asbestos tile from under the carpet in some parts of the school, although Satterfield said that the asbestos was not airborne and was instead attached to the tile floor.

A big project at the middle school involves the kitchen, which previously was a satellite kitchen like those at all other schools in the district that receive food cooked at the high school and trucked over each day. Now, the Kennedy Middle School kitchen will be able to cook meals for its own students, and the serving line will be its own separate room.

In the gym, partition walls that stopped moving years ago are being removed in favor of curtains so the gym can be divided into smaller rooms at will.

Work at Kennedy Middle School and Rodgers Elementary is expected to be completed this summer, with similar work being done at Masonic Heights Elementary School, Violet Elementary School and North Lake High School in summer 2018.

“It’s a big undertaking for a 10-week window,” Satterfield said.