Work is nearly complete on the first stage of the Wheeler Elementary School renovation and crews are on schedule to complete construction on the new main office and security vestibule, situated where the third through fifth grade classrooms now stand.
The second phase of the upgrades include improvements to the gym, cafeteria, library and art classroom. Ongoing assembly of a new corridor connecting the east and west wings of the school, turning the “U” shaped building into a square, also will be completed by the fall, as well as a new courtyard with outdoor teaching areas.
Principal Andrew Batchelder said he’s excited for “a new and enhanced learning environment that is modern, ADA complaint … and even more safe” come the fall.
The new main office, nurse’s office and vestibule will face the parking lot on the western side of the school and will direct visitors to sign into the main office before they can gain access to the rest of the building.
The existing bus loop will remain on the southern side of the school and students will continue using that entrance in the morning.
Temporarily displaced third through fifth grade classrooms will be moved to Wheeler’s eastern wing, which is normally home to kindergarten through second grade classes, plus a few in the art and music rooms.
The final, third, phase of construction, will be happening in the fall and winter. When the renovation is complete, the former main office and nurse’s office will be split between a computer lab and pre-school rooms, the latter of which are currently being housed at Linden Street School.
Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett said the $23.5 million project remains on schedule to be completed in early 2020 and said the town may see some cost savings on busing should the pre-school rooms be ready quicker than was originally budgeted for.
Most of the renovation’s expense is expected to be reimbursed by the state, with around $12.1 million anticipated.
“We’re really pleased with how smoothly it’s all gone,” Brummett said.
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