Stratford renovations revealed
Something is about to be cooking at Stratford High School. Two specialized classrooms coming to the school may lead students to culinary or sports medicine careers.
An upcoming expansion will add 12 regular classrooms, one COPE classroom and cafeteria expansions, parents and community members learned at a Jan. 13 information meeting in the school auditorium. About 25 citizens attended.
The $6.9 million project is being funded by the Berkeley County School District’s bond referendum that voters passed in 2012. Construction at Stratford begins in April and should be complete by May 2015.
The culinary arts room will be home to a new pastry class and other cooking instruction. It will have stoves, a cooler, a classroom and dishwashing area.
“The culinary arts lab is an exciting thing the school is getting,” Red Iron Architects President Emma Souder said. “It’s comparable to any culinary arts academy in the area.”
In the sports medicine room students will have access to an exercise machine, a therapy table, sinks and a whirlpool. Locker rooms will be added to the women’s sports program.
Educators said they are excited for students to use these new career and technical education (CTE) rooms.
The renovations and additions mean the 14 classroom trailers can be removed, Souder said.
A two-story section will be added to house the new classrooms, she said.
The renovations to the first floor section will house the CTE classrooms, expanded cafeteria and a lobby. There will also be a new office and conference room along with a new courtyard.
The bricks will match those of the current building.
“We’re using some of the same language as the existing building,” Souder said. “We want it to blend in.”
Souder said her company is currently winding up the design phase.
“We are on schedule,” she said. “Everything has gone smoothly.”
“The project will be substantially complete in March 2015,” M.B. Kahn Construction Co. Project Manager Robert Sebire said. “Construction is expected to start in April.”
There will be emergency egress in the areas under construction, according to Sebire.
“We’ll come in the summertime and do as much as we can to the interior,” he said. “The cafeteria will be ready when students come back in August.”
There will be 672 seats in the new cafeteria compared to 400 today, Souder said.
The expansion will bring one more line to the canteen, SHS Principal Heather Taylor said.
“We’re still going to have three lunches,” Taylor said.
BCSD Deputy Superintendent Archie Franchini said the new arrangement will eliminate students from eating in non-eating areas, as they do now because of limited space.
The new areas will have plenty of natural daylight, which is important to learning, attendance and health, Souder said.
“Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the students and the staff,” Sebire said.
All employees have completed a background check and have numbered hats in case there is any issue.
An audience member said her child has breathing problems and asked if chemicals from construction would have an effect.
Sebire said there will be some dust but trucks will be coming and going to the backside of the school. He said he will do his best to keep the dust down.
Most of the chemical smell is in the paint. The paint is significantly reduced because they are only allowed to use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds), according to Sebire.
Another citizen asked if crews would be working around the clock and making noise.
“We’re not going to be working late at night,” Sebire said, adding that there will be some concrete demolition. He said the noise levels will be kept low during testing.
Concrete trucks arrive at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and beep and make some noise, he said.
“The noise will only be a few times,” he added.
The citizen said the last time the roof was fixed there was noise for six to eight months with blowers on the roof because of rain.
“I could hear it,” the citizen said. “I just want you to be aware there are people that live here.”
“We’re cognizant that we are a neighbor here and we want to be a good neighbor,” Sebire said. “Concrete pours start early but won’t be often.”
Concrete must be poured in cooler temperatures to leave a better finish and a much better product, according to Sebire. There are 120 yards of concrete to be poured.
Another citizen asked how soon after the expansions more trailers would be needed.
Franchini said it should be five to six years before trailers are needed again.
He said that is based on housing development plans in the area, adding that Berkeley County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.
Taylor said some teachers are now sharing classrooms. These teachers will soon have their own space instead of having to travel to an available room.