Construction progressing smoothly at Kingsland school

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich stands on the roof of the school building, where new heating and cooling pipes have been installed to allow quick transition from heating or cooling the building to occur.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The pipes were installed belatedly due to being taken out of the 2008 building referendum as an extra expense.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Kingsland’s school building will be looking better from the ground up at the opening of the 2019-2020 school year after a summer-long health and safety and indoor air quality (IAQ) project is completed to update the structure that serves the district’s 500-plus students.

Knutson Construction and subcontractors pulled their trucks and equipment up to the school and got right to work immediately after the school year ended early on May 17.

“Knutson did discover…this building was constructed in the mid-1950s, and the floor system of the main floor and second floor is first-generation precast concrete flooring,” said Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich. “They conducted a deflection test –rolling ball bearings on the floor – and the ball bearings were supposed to roll out to the edges, but instead, ours rolled to the center of the room. The early concrete rods are corroding and breaking, and the easiest fix is to put a column and beam system in to support the first and second floors.

“It’s really an IAQ project, and along with that, we’re putting in a better, quieter ventilation system that will let us have the ability to both heat and cool the entire building at the flip of a switch by installing two more pipes. But in order to install those pipes, they have to drill holes in the floor, and that means that it would weaken the floors further, so that’s why we have the beam system that starts in the elementary hallway and goes all the way down to the preschool room, for the whole length of the building.”

Hecimovich assured there is no imminent danger to the public spending time in the building, but that shoring up the stacked hallways made the most sense as the district is improving the heating and ventilation system by removing noisy air handlers installed in each of the classrooms approximately 17 years ago.

“We’ve been told that there’s not any immediate danger to students, but it’s time to put new units in the building, and that means that they have to drill holes in the floor for the new pipes,” he said. “The new pipes will allow us, if the day starts out at 50 degrees and gets hot, maybe 80 degrees, to switch between heating and cooling. The system that was put in in 2002 was substandard, and we want the kids to have a nice, quiet classroom, because the old units would rumble, so the kids couldn’t hear the teachers.

“Also, with heating and cooling units that can be switched in the same day – because before, we would have to shut it down, it would take days to switch between them – the future might be year-round schooling. You never know, but having heating and cooling gives that a chance. Plus, this building was designed for 40 to 50 years of use, but we’re going on 60 years, and it’s not like a house – we’ve got students in here day after day – and especially the commercial ventilation systems…are not like a home furnace. They don’t last forever.”

The project, which Hecimovich described as “99% IAQ and health and safety,” also encompasses asbestos abatement in the main building, from basement to second floor, as well as the ceiling in the ag shop, the installation of LED lighting in the classrooms as an effort to conserve energy and eventually recoup the money spent on the investment through utility bill savings, installing new doors on the main floor entry restrooms to bring them up to code and replacing the residential windows installed in the formerly-detached ag classroom with commercial windows that are meant to last years longer.

“Roofing comes with the whole pipe system on the roof and the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units, and the ag building was never on the heating system with the rest of the school,” Hecimovich said. “And the school, being built in the ‘50s, has probably one outlet per room for plugging in a projector for filmstrips, so today’s tech is short power in the classrooms. We’ll put in four sets of outlets and the appropriate drops to plug into for tech.”

The superintendent, operating his office out of a construction trailer on the east side of the school building, marveled at the efficiency with which Knutson’s crew and subcontractors moved into the school as soon as the last diploma was handed out. He referred to the mountain of classroom furniture stacked on foam and plywood in the Kingsland Café, with a little room left for school age childcare (SACC) participants to dine each day.

“They’ve been here for only three weeks, and they’ve gotten all this done,” he said. “They gave us three days and some of their own crew to get things moved into here, and they put down foam and plywood so nothing would damage the rubberized floor. They’re very thorough, and we’re very pleased with them. They work like an orchestra.”

The decision to proceed with the project was made because the School Board felt it was the most important thing to do to give students a quality education in a safe environment, Hecimovich noted.

“This all a health and safety and indoor air quality project, a necessary project in the eyes of the board and myself…there’s not enough support to build new, and so we’ve got to fix what we have. This building served students well in the 1950s, but this isn’t the 1950s – we’re preparing students for jobs with skills that they’ll need for the workplace,” he said.