Despite a few snafus, Whitehall students enter new buildings on time
After a long and busy summer for construction workers and planners -- and after passing inspections Aug. 29 and 30 -- Whitehall City Schools students were expected to return to school Wednesday, Sept. 4, for the 2013-14 school year.
The date marked the completion of the district's fifth and final school building -- the new Whitehall-Yearling High School.
The district's $78 million construction project has been in the works for five years and will continue with the addition of 12 new classrooms over the next year-and-a-half.
While high school students filed into their new home for the first time Sept. 4, the building's formal dedication isn't until Sept. 29.
A setback in plans has pushed back the opening of the C. Ray Williams Early Childhood Center that is moving into the former Kae Avenue Elementary School. Doors will open there Sept. 10.
At the high school, the only inspection that didn't get approved Aug. 29 was for electrical work, and that was because the inspector was unable to be there then.
That inspection was moved to Aug. 30, thus postponing orientation that was scheduled that day for students in grades 10-12. The high school passed the electrical inspection, too.
The district has launched a Facebook page to better communicate with the Whitehall community, according to Superintendent Brian Hamler. Pictures are being posted almost daily of the new schools, facilities and other student-related activities.
After the start of school, Craig Kertesz, the project's construction manager, will bid out work for renovations to the old portion of the high school, including Americans with Disabilities Act updates, structural improvements and more electrical and plumbing upgrades.
Additional interior improvements planned for the for Kae Avenue building also will be completed after the C. Ray Williams building's Sept. 10 opening.
Kertesz has assured district officials that he would work around the district's schedule, completing work after hours or on weekends if necessary, in an effort to keep students safe.
Plans for the district's 12 new classrooms, which will be added to the three elementary schools, still are in the planning stages.
All construction areas also will be closed off and inaccessible to students as work is completed.