Work continues on HVAC systems as school begins
Construction workers were busy on Tuesday trying to get the new HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system up and running in all areas of Southside Elementary School. With school scheduled to start on Wednesday (yesterday), schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said on Tuesday morning that he was waiting for workers to turn on the upstairs HVAC units at Southside. "I'm very optimistic it's going to get all done today," said Hawkins. He did acknowledge that the HVAC projects at Southside and Northside elementary schools have "taken longer than I had hoped." "Any time you've got a construction or renovation project going on," explained Hawkins, "I don't know that I've ever been around one that has been finished exactly when they said they were going to." The office area and a couple of classrooms at Southside will likely not be cooled by the HVAC system until a few days after the school year begins. Portable units will cool those areas, Hawkins said. He said any other areas where HVAC systems are not running will be cooled by portable units. And remaining work, including the installation of hallway ceiling tiles, will occur in the evenings when students are not in school. "We need the air conditioning up and running," said Principal Jason McAllister on Tuesday. "That's the highest priority." All of the newly installed HVAC units at Northside Elementary were running on Tuesday morning, with the exception of the school's cafeteria and kitchen. "And we're very hopeful that (those units) should be turned on later today (Tuesday)," Hawkins said. He applauded the efforts of teachers and custodians for getting their classrooms and school buildings ready for students. "Our staff has really been upbeat," said McAllister, "and our custodial staff has performed a miracle." He said everything in the building's interior was covered in dust 10 days ago. "When it's finished it's going to be very nice," said McAllister, "(but) there's always that overlap . where everybody's in the building at the same time - all trying to get everything done." "We're just trying to stay upbeat here," he added. "We're ready for school and excited about school." He credited his faculty and staff for staying positive while putting in long hours and dealing with "bumps along the road" as they got ready to welcome about 600 students back to school on Wednesday morning. "We're all excited about school," said McAllister. "We all understand that it's tough to come in here and work around each other . but again those are the times where it's most important to be as positive as you can be, be as flexible as you can be." In a related matter, Hawkins said the district continues to wait for state approval in order to move forward with the construction of a new third lane on the driveway accessing Southside Elementary School's parking lot and bus circle. "We'll have . extra people (supervising student drop-offs) for the first couple weeks of school making sure everything is safe," said McAllister. "People just need to remember," he added, "that our number one objective is to keep kids safe . The parking lot of an elementary school is not a place to come when you're in a hurry."