The New Ike

With the start of a new school year less than a week away, the Warren County School District’s new northern attendance area campus is nearing completion.

The new elementary building was open to families of students Wednesday afternoon.

The areas where that building connects to the middle and high school were blocked off, but the rest of the building is ready. “The classrooms are up and ready to go,” Interim Director of Pupil Services Ruth Nelson said. “They’re in good shape.”

The middle and high school is taking longer. The elementary school “was a smaller scope of work,” Director of Buildings and Grounds Services Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht said. “Everything’s brand new. There’s no conflict.”

“There’s a lot of complication when it’s renovation,” he said.

According to Clerk of the Works Dennis LaMonica, the old building was essentially gutted. “There are a few supporting walls left,” he said.

Still, the renovation portions of the project are going well.

“The rooms look really good,” Eisenhower Middle High School Principal Kelly Martin said.

“Everything should be ready with the exception of band, choir, auditorium, and home ec,” Kennerknecht said.

“The contractors here have been great,” he added. “Any problem we have, they take care of it immediately.”

The building has all-new plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. “It’s such a relief to know that the whole building is sprinklered,” Kennerknecht said. Schools in Pennsylvania were not subject to any kind of code when Eisenhower was built, he said.

The low- to no-interest Qualified Zone Academy Bond dollars had some strings attached. Among those were several environmental requirements. The building takes advantage of geothermal heating and cooling, has some rainwater harvesting locations, and allows for sunlight to make its way to some interior rooms. Photo-voltaic cells power automatic sinks in four bathrooms. Triple-pane windows, vertical ventilation systems, motion-detection lights, and some lights that dim when there is enough natural light in the rooms help reduce the building’s energy consumption. Students can monitor energy consumption at a station just inside the main bus entrance.

Choir, band, and home economics will have temporary homes. Two will be housed in modular classrooms off of the back of the building.

“Choir will be in one of the modulars,” Kennerknecht said. Home ec will occupy the other modular building.

Band will be held in the wrestling room for the time being. That’s a third different use of that space in recent months. The office was moved there last school year.

The auditorium, used as six classroom spaces during the last school year, is also not ready for use. There are some holes in the roof, the deck above the ceiling is being replaced, and the seats are not in place.

Officials expect the seats to be in place in October.

In fact, the building should be in essentially its final condition by then. October is the “substantial completion” date for the work, Kennerknecht said.

Punch lists and other final fixes could keep some level of construction happening at the school for months. “It could take up to a year until they’re completely done,” he said.

There is still work going on in the gymnasium, but it will be ready for student use by Wednesday.

Paving of the back parking lot will begin Saturday.

Parking is a concern for Martin.

There is about the same amount of parking now as there was in the past and there is more demand now with the elementary school teachers and staff.

“It’s going to be tight,” Martin said.

But there is no question as to the feeling of the staff.

“We’re thrilled to death,” Martin said. “Teachers are smiling. Couldn’t be happier.”