SPS school construction racing against the clock

Construction continues both inside and outside the new Westwood Elementary School on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 in Stillwater. The interior of the school is expected to be ready for the first day of school. (David Bitton/For the News Press)

It is a mad dash to get the interior of the new Westwood Elementary School largely complete before the school year begins on Aug. 19.

The current timeline allows teachers and staff access to the building next Wednesday, which would allow school to begin as planned. But if there are any delays, Westwood would start their school year at a later date.

Superintendent Marc Moore sent a letter to Westwood parents Friday afternoon giving them the latest information. He will send Westwood parents another update next Tuesday evening, letting them know if the school year will start on time.

Moore sited excessive rain in the past year as one reason why the project isn’t fully complete.

Much of the outdoor work around Westwood – like parking lots, playgrounds, landscaping and fencing — will be done during the school year.

Moore said students will have a place to go outside for recess.

An abundance of asbestos found in the old Westwood Elementary caused demolition to be pushed back about six weeks, which prohibited groundwork around the school.

The new two-story 93,000-square-foot $26 million facility with capacity for 600 students was funded by $74 million in bonds voters approved in February 2017.

Three other school sites are seeing major construction or renovation from the bond.

Sangre Ridge Elementary

The $5 million project that included building a new gymnasium and reconfiguring the front office to improve security is nearly complete and is expected to receive a substantial completion certificate at next Tuesday’s board meeting.

Stillwater Middle School

The $8.1 million project that is aimed at dealing with overcrowding is expected to wrap up in early 2020 and will include a new six-classroom wing, along with renovation and expansion of the gymnasium, fine arts area and front office.

Principal Bo Gamble said the new orchestra room is on track to be complete in time for the new school year. The new band room and renovated gymnasium should be complete sometime this fall. The classroom wing is expected to be finished in the spring.

Gamble said middle school parents can expect an email by the end of next week that will give construction updates and the plan for the first day of school.

Stillwater Junior High School

Bids for the $10.6 million project that will add six classrooms and make structural repairs to the ninth-grade wing were opened last month and are expected to be awarded next week.

Moore said construction is expected to begin this fall and last about 24 months.