HALIFAX– On Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, the Halifax Elementary School Committee met for a walk-through of the elementary school, as part of their scheduled meeting. Although many teachers were moving into their classrooms, the school was still an active construction zone just hours before school began for the year.
Workers were focusing on the gym Monday, which was closed, so the committee toured the rest of the building. The school was hot and stuffy throughout the tour.
Although there were many signs of progress, and the administration was upbeat, the building was unfinished in many ways. A bathroom in the Pilgrim Area Collaborative classroom was not complete at all; a few windows were boarded up and not weatherized– which a town official noted was caused by the construction company ordering the wrong panels; trim is unfinished; and siding is still missing on the outside of the building. Beaudry, speaking in the library, said to the committee that there is one lone siding installer who has largely completed that work himself.
But, most classroom renovations are completed, and administrators, teachers and custodians are working with the construction workers to have the building in the best shape possible for the first day of school, stated Beaudry at the meeting following the walk-through.
“210 windows have been replaced,” said Principal Beaudry. “You can quote him on that,” added Superintendent of Schools Joy Blackwood. “The windows on the South side of the building are tinted to prevent glare,” added Beaudry. “It’s coming along…the windows look great!”
When asked whether the project was delayed, Blackwood said, “The goal of the project was significant completion [before the start of school].” She added that most of the work that was left uncompleted was detail work. Beaudry later estimated the work was 90 percent complete, to be finished shortly.
Committee members and administrators saw new windows along the front of the school first, where ladders were still propped on the outside of the building from painting that had been happening earlier in the day. From the inside, members of the committee noted that the temperature would be much more stable than before, in all seasons.
The art and music rooms appeared ready for the first day of school, minus blinds for the windows. Blinds throughout the building are missing but have been ordered, according to Assistant Superintendent Jill Proulx, and will be installed shortly. Other items are backordered, including doors, which Beaudry said would be installed after hours.
The cafeteria sports new windows and new grey flooring, replacing linoleum tiles. School officials are hoping the floor holds up better than the tiles, and if it does, may consider using it in other parts of the school.
New small fans have been added to a two-floor hallway in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade wing of the school, to help circulate the air, according to Beaudry. During the walk-through, the fans kept the hallway cooler than many of the classrooms in the building.
Substantial improvements have been made to HES recently, this being the second of a three-phase summer program to address issues with the school’s roof, windows and fire suppression system, paid through grants from the Massachusetts Building School Authority for the first two phases and the Town of Halifax for the third, said Blackwood.
“They’re coming whether the building is finished or not,” said Beaudry of the students. School started just two days following the tour.