Work set to begin on Laingsburg bond projects

A proposed rendering of Laingsburg High School’s new 650-seat auditorium is shown here. The new performance space comes as a result of a $17.8-million bond proposal approved by district voters in May 2019.

LAINGSBURG — In the fall of 2017, the Laingsburg Community Schools Board of Education conducted a retreat for strategic planning, and it was during that session that board members discussed adding a new performing arts center and an auxiliary gym to the high school campus.

Tuesday, the district will move one step closer to that reality when construction under its $17.8-million bond — approved by district voters in May 2019 — begins.

“It feels great,” Board President Mary Angst said, “especially right now when there’s not a lot of positive news. This is a very welcome beacon of light in an otherwise dark time.”

TowerPinkster, the district’s chief architectural firm, and Christman Company, in charge of construction management for the project, have been working with officials since the bond passed in May 2019.

In an effort to secure contractors for the work, the bond improvements — which include upgrades to the district’s Early Childhood Center, elementary school, middle school and high school — were split into two bid packages, according to TowerPinkster Design Architect Matthew Murphy.

Package one will encompass the addition of secure vestibules to the Early Childhood Center, the elementary school, the middle school and the high school. The measure will also provide air conditioning throughout the elementary school, as well as cover the cost of reconfiguring the high school’s main entrance, removing the “skeletonized steel” overhang, according to Murphy.

With the addition of secure vestibules in each building, students, parents and other guests who need to enter the building during school hours will require authorization from the main office. Individuals will be funneled directly into the main office, rather than having access to the main hallway as they do now.

Package two of the project will include a 650-seat auditorium at the high school constructed on the building’s northeast side near the student parking lot. The auditorium space will have two separate dressing rooms as well as a designated storage space for props and scenery.

Package two will also add an auxiliary gym — constructed adjacent to the existing high school gym — and will create a larger space to accommodate the high school band.

Under the design, the current band room, large group meeting room, and existing auditorium space will be renovated into a larger band room — which will feature increased space for instrument storage and practice rooms — as well as a new mat room, to be used by the wrestling and cheerleading teams.

Construction for both packages begins Tuesday, according to Project Executive Chad Clark, of Christman Company.

“We’re still feeling out the supply chain and any labor shortages as a result of the shelter-in-place due to COVID-19,” Clark said, “but right now we’re still on schedule for an August/September 2021 completion.”

The secure vestibules and air conditioning at the elementary school are set to be completed by mid-August, according to Clark, while the concrete foundations of both the auditorium and the auxiliary gym will be laid in mid-July, followed by the addition of precast concrete in September/October and structural steel in October/November.

Both structures are set to be enclosed in December.

Interior work at the high school campus will begin in January and run through August 2021, Clark said, noting work on the existing interior renovations (band room, mat room) won’t start until June 2021.

During Wednesday’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Matt Shastal said he’s looking forward to seeing the bond work take shape.

“I just want to say hats off to this Board of Education,” Shastal said. “The detail, the strategy, the thinking process and just the coordination and cooperation and the collegial conversation that we’ve all had through this journey for the benefit of the students and parents of this community…It’s a long time coming to get shovels in the ground and it’s going to be truly amazing to watch that work take place up through August of 2021.”

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