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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 20, 2009

Asbestos an unwelcome surprise
Summer work on $27M project on target

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Six weeks into the summer construction season with just three weeks to go before classes starts, the school board heard a glowing report on the progress being made on the district’s $27 million renovation project.

Passed by voters in November of 2007, the project will upgrade Guilderland’s five elementary schools, improve technology across the district, and move the district offices to the high school.

“It’s very difficult to work in seven buildings at the same time,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders told the board on Tuesday night.

Several projects — including roofing at the high school and at Guilderland and Westmere elementary schools — are a year ahead of schedule, according to Rudley Lewis with Sano-Rubin Construction.

The only major stumbling block has been the discovery of unexpected asbestos in ceilings at Westmere and Guilderland, and in pipe tunnels at Altamont Elementary.

“We don’t like to see surprises but it happens with every construction project when you’re dealing with renovations,” said Daniel Woodside, a partner with CSArch, the architects for the project.

The asbestos was found by the contractor, Woodside said, and a change proposal was drawn up. The proposal was found to be too costly, he said, and recommended bidding out for the work in the fall. The asbestos can be removed during school breaks so the scheduled work can still proceed as planned next summer, he said.

“When staff or students come back to school, they will not encounter a dangerous situation,” Woodside said.

Lewis’s overview on work completed thus far included:

At Guilderland High School, foundations and underground utilities are complete for a classroom addition that will ultimately allow the district offices to move to the school. Structural steel erection begins Aug. 19, so the addition is enclosed in October and completed by February 2010.

Alteration for technology and Focus rooms and for classrooms in the 600-700 wing will be ready for this school year. New lights have been installed in the gym;

At Farnsworth Middle School, library media center classrooms and technology rooms with new dust collection systems will be ready for the new school year.

However, because of material delays, cafeteria doors will have to be replaced after school or over vacations;

At Westmere Elementary School, additions for equipment are behind schedule but will not impact function this school year; they are scheduled to be completed next summer.

Site work and classroom and corridor alterations are all on schedule and will be ready for use in September;

At Guilderland Elementary School, corridor work is on schedule to be completed by September. Mechanical and electrical work in classrooms, scheduled to be started next summer, is already underway;

At Altamont Elementary School, a small addition for equipment is behind schedule but it won’t affect school activities.  Site work, and alterations to classrooms and corridors is on schedule to be ready for this school year;

At Lynnwood Elementary School, site work is completed, and alterations to classrooms and corridors will be complete by the start of the school year.  The one outstanding issue is a delay from the manufacturer for 36 interior door frames. They may arrive in time to be installed before school starts, or, if not, they will be installed over vacations; and

At Pine Bush Elementary School, the district’s newest school, site work is completed and the upgrades to corridors and classrooms will be completed by the start of the school year.

“In all these buildings, the life safety systems will be intact,” said Lewis, explaining that, while new systems will be installed later, this year the old public address systems, clocks, and fire alarms will all be serviceable.

Lewis concluded that much work still remains to be done in the several weeks before the start of school. “If most of you walked in,” he told the school board members, several of whom had donned hard hats for the groundbreaking ceremony, “you’d probably be shell-shocked.”

Teachers will be able to get to their classrooms at Pine Bush and Guilderland elementary schools by Aug. 23, Lewis said, and at the other schools by Sept. 3.

“Your good work is reaffirmed in this report,” Superintendent John McGuire said to Lewis. “It’s very reassuring...to know you are on this case for us.”

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