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Asbestos abatement at the Duncan High School begins Monday, a portion of the high school renovation project Duncan Public School administrators knew needed to get done while students were out of the buildings.
Superintendent Sherry Labyer, Assistant Superintendent Rodney Calhoun and DHS Principal Justin Smith said work is underway at the high school, with a portion of the main building blocked off for safety. Some teachers have been displaced from their classrooms, but new — although temporary — rooms have been found for those teachers.
Although much of the work is taking place inside, there are signs of progress on the exterior of the high school. This includes the removal of some trees and a portion of a sidewalk in front of the school, which will make room for a bus lane.
“It’s exciting to show up each day and see it change,” Smith said. “It changes every day.”
The renovation is the result of a $19.03 million bond issues approved by a supermajority of Duncan voters Feb. 14, 2012. PBK Architect and CMS Willowbrook, who are working on the project together, set a guaranteed maximum price for the project at $14,770,775.66. The rest of the funds will be used for technology, textbooks and to pay fees due to the bonding company, architect and construction company.
The asbestos abatement was among the most recent phases of the project approved by the Duncan Board of Education wen it met July 16. The board approved $152,244 to be used for this purpose.
Labyer said some of the administrators — namely Calhoun and her — have been meeting with PBK and CMS Willowbrook representatives for regular updates and to answer questions pertaining to the project. Labyer said the two companies spend much of the meeting time detailing how the project is going and breaking down the technical points of the construction.
She said PBK and CMS Willowbrook have been great to work with.
The construction began in June. Prior to that other steps were taken, from designing what the campus would look like to determining the financial breakdown of the project.
“They gave us a timeline,” Labyer said. “When you see things happening, it validates the project. It’s really a good partnership.
“Through dialogue, they’re constantly looking for ways to save money, making sure we get the most out of the bond issue. They don’t compromise the project.”
At this point, eight teachers have been displace from their classrooms. Although only temporary, Smith said the teacher shuffling is something that has to happen before the project can move forward. And the teachers don’t mind, he said, because the displacement will speed up the project.
The Duncan High was built in 1960 and graduated its first class in 1961. Although the campus has been added to, including a construction of a science building in recent years, most of the campus has remained the same.
This renovation is the biggest change to the high school since initial construction, and the three administrators are excited with the progress, saying it was important to get part of the project out of the way before students return to classes Aug. 20.
“It’s been a long process for stakeholders,” Labyer said. “No one seems to be put out by the inconvenience of it. Progress is messy. I haven’t heard anyone complain. A lot of people are excited about it.”
Calhoun said CMS Willowbrook has been an important part of the project, noting the construction company is well versed in working around students and ensuring safety of everyone.
“CMS Willowbrook had done this at several schools,” he said. “They’re used to working around the needs of kids.”
Duncan’s board members will be given an update on the project during the Aug. 15 regular meeting. Anyone wanting to keep up with progress of the work can check out the Duncan Public Schools website.