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Education

August 13, 2013

School board receives update on DHS construction

DUNCAN — Student safety is CMS Willowbrook’s main concern as students head back to campus at Duncan High School on Aug. 20. That was what Duncan Board of Education members heard Monday at their monthly meeting.

Rick Watts, director of operations for CMS talked about what work has taken placed and what efforts will be taken to keep students safe during the construction.

“Overall, everything is moving really well,” Rick Watts, director of operations for CMS, said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. We have a lot of temporary facilities in place to keep students safe.”

He said there are some safety features already in place. This includes plywood partitions, which are separating the construction of the new office and main entry corridor from the rest of the building.

He said the interior of the building may also be odd for students because of the plywood partitions. He said it won’t take students long to get the hang of the campus and interior layouts. Watts said it may be a bit inconvenient for students for a while, but the project will take shape.

A new office space will be built where the library existed only  a few months ago.

Watts said temporary fencing has also been put up around outdoor construction zones to keep students safely out of those construction zones. Faculty and personnel needing access to those construction zones are required to wear hard hats before entering.

The construction project is the result of a $19.03 million bond issue approved by Duncan voters Feb. 14, 2012. The project broke ground June 10. Among the first actions taken was the addition of a bus loop CMS plans to pour cement for Wednesday or Thursday. But the pouring of the cement will be contingent on the weather.

Watts said the goal is to have the bus loop completed before schools starts. Although the cement will need about seven days to set, he said it will be tested. If it proves to not be strong enough before the first few days of school, it may be blocked off to start the school year.

“The concrete may not be up to full strength when school starts,” Watts said. “Foot traffic will be fine. We may not be able to drive on it for the first three days.”

Watts said his company will have extra workers on site for the first two or three days of the new school year.

“They’re going to direct students. We’re really going to watch the students when they get back and make adjustment as needed.”

He said there are a few changes being made for the first part of the school year because of the construction. He said students won’t be able to use the front doors, but will have to enter from the north side of the main building.

“It’s not going to be the best of both worlds,” Watts said. “They’re going to have to go around if they want to get from the Ninth Grade Building (West Building) or the auditorium.”

Superintendent Sherry Labyer said CMS Willowbrook has provided updates at meetings with Central Office administrators. Labyer said the company has worked hard to keep the school district knowledgeable of developments in the project.

“CMS Willowbrook is doing a great job,” Labyer said. “They keep us informed. They call a lot. It’s been a good team.”

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