Brandywine gets a facelift

Published 6:05 pm Saturday, June 26, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Brandywine district in the midst of a serious facelift as construction for the facility improvement bond project is now in full swing at all three of its schools.
Wheelbarrows line the hallways of the high school and walls have been knocked down to facilitate for the many renovations occurring at the school this summer.
Brandywine director of finance Gus Damaske called the current work for the $14.4 million bond project "intense."
He said a majority of the work, an amount estimated at about $10.1 million, will be done during the 2004-2005 fiscal year, which takes place from July 1 to June 30, 2005.
The construction is being completed by the Kalamazoo-based Skanska and the architecture was done by the South Bend, Ind. based Hebard &Hebard.
When the dust settles from the project, which is scheduled to be completely finished in December 2005, Damaske thinks the benefits to the district will be great.
Damaske said the changes will also make a big difference to the staff.
Construction projects that will be completed at all three schools this summer include roof repairs; classroom renovations, which will provide new floors, walls, ceilings, doors and casework; bathroom renovations, which will also provide new floors, walls, ceilings and doors as well as new sinks and toilets; and connections to a municipal water source.
The summer construction specific to Brandywine Middle/High School include the addition of an eight grade science room at the northeast corner; the addition of a special education room at the northwest corner; and renovations of about 12 classrooms, the bathrooms near the office and the media center.
This will leave renovations for eight rooms to be completed in the fall, eight rooms for the winter and nine rooms for the summer of 2005.
Damaske said that all of the work at the middle/high school is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2005.
Summer work at Brandywine Elementary includes the addition of a kitchen space of about 1,000 square feet at the southwest corner of the building and renovations for about 14 classrooms, two sets of bathrooms and the media center.
There are also renovations for four additional classrooms slated for the fall.
Damaske is hoping all work will be complete at the elementary school sometime this winter.
Lee Fitzgerald, Skanska project superintendent at the elementary school, said that everything is going according to plan.
The old California wing at Merritt Elementary has already been demolished and a pod configuration of six classes will be constructed in its place.
The California wing got its nickname because of the building style, which includes no interior hallways. This style was popular in regions with warmer weather.
The new addition will be adjoined with the rest of the school and allow for more efficient access throughout the building. This project is not expected to be completed until September 2005.
The other summer work scheduled at Merritt includes the addition of three new classrooms to be used for art, music and a computer lab and renovations to the multi-purpose room, about 8 classrooms and the bathrooms.
For all work that is scheduled to be done during the school year, Damaske said the district will work to shuffle classrooms and make the necessary space.
While Damaske sees these improvements as a positive step for the future of the district, he said there is also a flip side.
This amount is based on a study done by a district steering committee that was performed prior to the bond project. The study was conducted to identify the needs of the district and it determined that there were $30 million worth of necessary improvements.
Damaske hopes these needs will be addressed sometime after the work on the current project is complete.