School’s out, construction begins

Superintendent Steven Sayers

High-dollar projects are the “summer homework” for the Amherst Schools.

A roof replacement started Monday at Steele High and will take two to four weeks to complete.

The $245,000 job by West Roofing Systems of LaGrange targets the south wing of the building.

“We’ve been working at that in phases over the past four years. This should finish the work,” said superintendent Steven Sayers. “This is going to be our high school for a long, long time and we have to make sure it’s taken care of.”

Work began Tuesday on a $342,000 replacement of the Richard S. Cooley track at Steele.

Once concrete is poured, there will be a curing time of 24 days. Then the track’s surface can be laid.

Work by FieldTurf Inc. is expected to wrap up Aug. 1.

The aim is to ensure the track is in good shape for the next 10 to 15 years, Sayers said. It’s one of the most high-profile facilities in the region for tournaments, including Amherst’s own Comet Relays.

“We probably could have held off for another year, but in looking at needs and priorities and what we see ourselves doing over the next five years we felt we could work it into the budget this summer,” he said. “It came down to doing it either this year or next year.”

Varsity tennis court resurfacing is already under way by Site Technology Inc., thanks to a $45,000 private donation.

That project is on track to wrap up by early July.

Paving will begin the first week of July for one of the northern Powers Elementary School parking lots.

The lot closest to the building will be stripped of asphalt and concrete will be poured by C&C Concrete at a cost of $78,000, with work to wrap Aug. 1.

A new softball field, built with an estimated $20,000 in donations from Sliman’s Sales and Service in Amherst, will get work over the summer.

The original plan was to have it open for some games this spring, but Sayers said drainage and cosmetic details still need attention.

Fences, dugouts, and backstops are already in place.

District employees are also busy with updates inside Amherst’s schools.

Three former preschoool classrooms at Powers Elementary are being converted for all-day, everyday kindergarten, which will be free this fall.

The preschool program will be moved to Nord Middle School. The first three rooms inside the main doors there will be used, keeping the young children close to the office and giving them easy access to buses.

Badly scuffed and dingy Steele High lockers will be painted green this summer, Sayers said.

Classrooms are being cleaned, hallways waxed, light bulbs replaced, and other minor fixes will be complete by the time administrators reopen buildings Aug. 3.

The district is also upgrading its phone system. Once finished, police will be able to tell exactly where 911 calls originate from inside each school.

Radio equipment is also being relocated atop the city water tower to boost reception between buildings and buses. One new school bus is also being purchased.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.