A pair of elementary school principals said they are embracing the renovations at their buildings despite the inconveniences that come with it.
“We’re still having fun with it,” Jennifer Gilman, principal of Hollywood Elementary, said. “It is a task that is not for the faint of heart.”
Hollywood and Park Hall elementary schools are undergoing HVAC renovations and roof replacements. Hollywood received a four-classroom and two-restroom trailer to hold children during the 18-month project that started this summer. Like Hollywood, Park Hall also has a four-classroom trailer to place some students during the construction period and will remain when construction is finished.
Jeffrey DiRenzo, principal of Park Hall, said the project is ahead of schedule.
“About a third of our building has a new HVAC and a little bit less than a third of the roof has been replaced at this point,” he said, adding they are in phase three of the six-phase renovation.
Although progress has been made, the school community has to adjust to the now limited parking lot, noisy roof work and strong odors. DiRenzo said construction workers are heating up tar for the roof replacement and the smell has caused classes to relocate to a computer lab and the instructional resource teachers’ room. He said they are making the best of it since they are receiving a new roof as well as heating and air conditioning “we desperately needed” in exchange.
“While it’s inconvenient, it’s been fairly smooth sailing and taken a lot of communication to do so,” he said.
Construction at Park Hall is expected to finish September next year.
Gilman said the project at Hollywood is about 43% done. Their tar phase or “hot work” was completed during the summer, she said, but acknowledged other smells and construction has forced the kindergartners to move from their playground to the “big kid playground.” She wondered if they would be willing to go back once the project is complete.
At the beginning of the school year, Gilman said Hollywood’s theme was “construction,” and despite minor inconveniences, they are still on schedule. She said the new heating system is being installed in all the classrooms.
“So we have seven classrooms where that installation will be just about done,” she said, adding that the next step will be a “musical dance of shifting some classrooms.”
With the help of volunteers, school staff are ready to pack up the old and organize the new classrooms between now and the upcoming holiday break. Gilman said she’s hoping for a seamless move with the most minimal impact on the students.
“What makes it work is knowing what the end result is and also having community support,” Gilman said referring to the PTA and college students returning back to their alma mater to help.