PLAINVILLE — Doll houses, desks and globes pack the gym at Wheeler Elementary School as the first stages of renovations get underway.
“It’s exciting, there’s a lot of work to be done and there’s a good plan to get it done,” said Principal Andrew Batchelder, whose office has been moved to the music room. Work to remove hazardous materials will be done first, with renovations to follow.
The renovate-as-new plan includes the installation of a security vestibule at the main entrance, new air conditioning units, expanded parking and the replacement of the 20-year-old roof and carpets.
When students return, renovations should just be starting in the east wing, home to kindergarten through second grade classes. Those students will be moved to temporary classrooms in the computer lab and teacher’s lounge or to classrooms divided in two. The pre-school program will be moved to Linden Street School.
The Capital Projects Building Committee is considering using savings from lower-than-expected bids to also replace the gymnasium and cafeteria floors.
School Facilities Director Steve Busel said the $23.5-million price tag, approved by voters last year, is on pace to come in at about a $1 million under budget.
The state’s reimbursement for a portion of the project is also slightly higher than estimated, at 65.38 percent versus 65 percent of the cost, Town Manager Robert Lee said.
“It’s going to be tremendous,” Batchelder said of the 18 to 20 month project. “The school’s going to be modernized.”