Changes coming to city schools for new school year
by Bailey Richards
The Hazard city schools will be seeing several changes this year, including construction, schools swapping buildings and possibly even a new heating and cooling system for the least energy efficient building in the district.
Roy G. Eversole Middle School and Walkertown Elementary school are switching places this year. With that also comes a name change to Roy G. Eversole Elementary School and Hazard Middle School. While some people have voiced a negative opinion about the name changes, so far all seem to be in agreement that she schools could use the upgrade.
Hazard Superintendent Sandra Johnson said that she had a five-hour long meeting with the general contractor for the school renovations on Thursday. The meeting was to discuss construction timelines and the work being done.
Along with all of the positive changes that will be happening to the buildings over the next year, Johnson said that it could mean some confusion and classroom moving for the renovations.
“We are going to try to make it as smooth as possible, but there will be some moving taking place during the year,” said Johnson.
Roy G. Eversole will be undergoing the largest changes with all new windows, new entrance and all new walkway and landscaping. Every window in the building will be replaced, said Johnson.
While Roy G. Eversole has been a fairly energy efficient building, the new windows will help dramatically in the reduction of energy costs. With so much being cut from schools in the state and federal budgets, saving money on bills by dipping into other funds like construction can help put back some of what is being cut.
Part of the updated façade for Roy G. Eversole will also mean taking out the concrete and updating the sign and entry way with a new awning and stone overlay on the brick. “
Everything in the front of that building from the building to the street is being taken out,” said Johnson. “All the concrete, everything goes.”
While work is also being done to Hazard Middle School in Walkertown, much of it is being done in the inside.
The buildings are both also receiving a more spirited coat of paint with blue and gold on all of the window frames and metal. The painting is expected to be completed soon, though the renovations of the buildings have yet to begin due to a late bond sale.
“The bond sale wasn’t until July the 26th,” said Johnson. “We had our first meeting yesterday with the architect and the general contractor and the sub-contractors, and laid down some ground rules.”
The work on the schools will be going on at the same time as classes. While this may be inconvenient for classes that have to move, during different parts of the renovations when it is all completed many of the classes will function better.
At Roy G. Eversole, old steam heat boxes and metal shelving will be replaced with built-in book cases and cubbies. Hazard Middle School has received new lockers.
Both schools will also see major changes in the administrative suites to make the schools safer and more difficult for unwanted visitors to enter. Any and all visitors will have to stop at the front desk first before the secretary can buzz them into a door leading to the rest of the school.
“You will be able to enter to see someone in the office, but you will not be able to go on until they buzz you in,” said Johnson.
Johnson said this added security is so important to her despite having very few problems with security in the past. She said she remembers a story of a child in another county who was picked up by a stepmother from school, who went on to murder the child. Adding extra steps between the outside and the students can help to prevent issues where the wrong person may try to take a child out of school.
For much of the year, students will be going to school while it is being worked on, though Johnson is hoping it will be finished before spring.
“I am projecting mid-March,” she said.
Another project that district officials are hoping to do this year is a new HVAC in the high school. Hazard High School is far and away the worst building in the district for energy efficiency, and Johnson said this is due to the old HVAC system.
With utility bills reaching upwards of $18,000 a month at the high school, the new system should help cut their bills by $57,000 a year for that building alone. While no date has yet been set for this work, they are hoping to complete it this year.
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