School construction taking shape in Englewood

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A new seventh- through 12th-grade campus is being constructed on the Englewood High School site but not much of it is visible from outside the construction area.

The view is much different when joining Englewood Schools Superintendent Brian Ewert to look at the project from the roof of the auditorium.

“We have had good weather and I think that has helped the construction to move ahead so it may be a little ahead of schedule,” Ewert said. “The work is progressing and, so far, we are a bit under budget, which is a good thing.”

He pointed out the framework for the walls of the north gymnasium that are going up, while, across the site, the wall for the kitchen and culinary arts facility is in place. He also pointed out the foundation for the halls and what will eventually be the middle school wing are in place.

All the buildings on the planned campus will be new except the auditorium and the field house. However, both of those buildings will undergo major renovations.

The campus transformation will cost about $40 million, which is available because voters gave the district approval to sell bonds.

Work is now under way on phase one construction of what will become the middle school facility on the north end of the site. The construction also will include most of the common areas like science labs that, when the project is completed, will be used by both high school and middle school students. Phase one involved construction of about 65 percent of the project and it is tentatively scheduled to be completed by November 2013.

The next phase will involve moving the high school students, teachers and classrooms to the newly constructed middle school building. That is tentatively scheduled to happen over the winter break in 2013.

Shifting the high school classes to the new building is necessary so the remaining high school buildings can be demolished. That makes way for construction of the final 35 percent of the project. The demolition of the main high school building and completion of the remainder of the project is scheduled to begin in January 2014 and be completed by November of that year.

“It is fun to see the construction progress and the building take shape,” he said. “We have a fixed camera in place that records a picture about every four hours so we can document the progress.”

He said this is a challenge because, in a small district like Englewood, there are no procedures or plans to follow since no school has been built here in about half a century.

“We are taking our time to make sure everything gets done and gets done right,” Ewert said. “This is a once-in-a-career experience and we want to make sure the completed project meets all expectations.”

As he watches the construction’s progress, Ewert said and he and his staff are also working on selecting everything that will what go into the buildings.

“We go room by room, deciding on furnishings, fixture and equipment for each room,” the superintendent said. “It is tedious and time consuming to select each of the estimated 200,000 items that will include all the shelves, lockers, tables, chairs and desks for the new building.”

Another aspect of the planning is making sure every room has the capabilities to support the technology that will be installed.

Ewert said Mike Porter, district director of technology, is overseeing that aspect of the planning.

“Mike is making sure of details like power available and outlets installed so each room can be properly equipped for 21st century education,” he said.

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