Middle school nears completion as high school project ramps up

Although construction work has been underway for only about three months at the Williamsport Area High School, the new middle school should rapidly approach completion this summer.

Work continues to be done at the two locations – both projects totaling a cost of about $58.6 million using interest-free qualified school construction bonds – and will continue throughout the summer months.

With a geothermal well, plumbing and HVAC system already completed, floors are being laid, walls hung and finishes put on the soon-to-be-opened Williamsport Area Middle School.

“They’re just working their way around the building,” said Jeff Angstadt, vice president of operations of Foreman Program and Construction Managers.

Although there still are large holes in sections of the building, which will remain open late into the project to allow heavy equipment to get to sections of the school, Angstadt is confident it won’t be a problem to meet the July 29 completion date.

“We’re still on target for the building itself,” he said.

The only hiccup of the project may be the surrounding areas of the property, Angstadt said.

George Dickerson, on-site construction manager, recently told the school board that “site work” aspects, such as playing fields, wouldn’t be ready by the start of the school year.

But as they push to meet the target date, workers may be seen throughout the building putting finishes in some places and completing larger construction projects in others.

“They’re starting from the back of the building to this front corner, so as we get done, we can pull stuff out,” Angstadt said.

The new media center will overlook “a sustainable aspect of the building,” as the roof over the main entrance will be the home to plants and soil, Angstadt said.

To accommodate all of the district’s seventh- and eighth-grade students, an addition that almost doubles the existing structure was built. Angstadt said just under 60,000 square feet was renovated while 101,880 square feet was added to the building.

Asphalt and sidewalks already are poured in its front. Students will be dropped off at the building by either a bus loop or parent loop to ease congestion, Angstadt said.

Lockers installation is nearing completion, including handicapped-accessible lockers on the end of each row. And to create a more comfortable learning environment, each classroom is equipped with its own temperature control to be able to adjust the room’s temperature by a few degrees either way.

Angstadt estimated that about 85 percent of the building is done. And with 118 workers on site a day, he said as long as they continue to work together, the job will be done smoothly.

“We just need to make sure we work together and that we meet that date,” Angstadt said.

While middle school students are anticipating a new building in the fall, high school students began dealing with an active construction site during the last few months of the school year that just ended.

There has been “minimal contact” between workers and students as they’re rarely in the building at the same time, Angstadt said. Most construction has been done during a second shift, after students have vacated the building.

Work at the high school has focused on a new administration wing.

“We are currently working on the new administration area, which is in the old science wing,” Angstadt said.

Demolition has begun in other parts of the building, as well, including the cafeteria. A 3,500-square-foot addition for a new serving area between two cafeterias also is seeing its foundation formed.

All of those projects are expected to be completed by the start of the school year, Angstadt said.

Throughout the next year and a half though, the high school also will see updates to its natatorium, black box theater and music rooms including the band, choral and orchestra rooms. The gymnasium and locker rooms also will have work done to them.

That work is expected to be completed by August 2014, according to Angstadt.

And although Angstadt’s crew is working on both projects, he said it’s the same as if they were working on projects at various unrelated locations.

“We have different sets of contractors on each project, so it’s just like running two different projects,” he said.