Summer vacation for students means school building construction

Jul 9, 2018

Kids might be out of school on summer vacation, but there’s plenty of construction activity at Dartmouth’s school buildings.

At the July 9 School Committee meeting, School Business Administrator James Kiely updated the committee on the start of the summer school construction season. Among the biggest projects currently underway: a replacement of the Dartmouth Middle School roof.

The $5.8 million project, partially funded through a state grant, includes an overhaul of the 37 roof systems on the building. In dire need of replacement, the new roof will have a 20-year warranty and a 30-year life expectancy.

“We’ve had two rainout days so far, which is a big concern, and they’ve been doing it a little slower than I’d like, but we’re hopeful that it’ll pick up,” Kiely said. “They have committed to working weekends to get it done for us.”

Work is also being done to renovate two modular units housing classrooms at Potter Elementary School. Originally intended to be a full replacement because everything was thought to be in bad shape, cost estimates came back at roughly $300,000 per unit to replace. Town Meeting had only allotted $240,000 to replace both.

Instead, after the buildings were gutted, officials discovered the substructures are actually in fine condition. In-house renovations are being conducted by the district’s facilities team for an estimated cost of $120,000.

“I think we can safely say we’ll get an extended use out of this and it’ll be sound for quite a number of years,” Kiely said.

At Dartmouth High School, crews are tearing down walls, creating new doors, and remodeling classrooms to accommodate an “innovation lab.” State-of-the-art technology and equipment is being funded through a $500,000 state grant.

To prepare for its opening in the fall, a room next to the media center is being transformed into the lab. New connections are also being made between engineering classrooms to move equipment and students.

In other construction activity, 10 new water bottle filling stations are also being added.