Meet the architects

GPD Architects will provide an update on design work for the new Powers PK-3 elementary school at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17 at the Amherst Steele High School creative learning center.

They’ll share what the design team has envisioned right now and ask for feedback from the public.

Nord open houses changed

Building preparation at Nord Middle School, specifically the heating and air conditioning project, is taking longer than expected, said principal Jill Jiovanazzo and Amherst superintendent Steven Sayers.

As a result, open houses have been rescheduled.

Open house for fifth grade will be from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6, starting in the Nord gym.

Open house for third and fourth grades will be from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7. Third grade families will start in the gym, while fourth grade families will begin by meeting teachers.

Building updates

Last-minute work is underway to ready Amherst’s schools for the first day, both inside and outside.

Building and grounds administrator Chuck Grimmett said his summer crew has been busy sprucing up properties. That’s entailed both cleaning out Shupe and Harris schools to save demolition contract money as well as improving the curb appeal of the remaining schools.

The Nord Middle School parking lot will be sealed and striped Monday. The playground there has gotten new mulch and borders. Two pieces of playground equipment were salvaged from Harris and moved to Nord.

The heating and air conditioning system at Nord has gotten a huge overhaul. It’s 99 percent finished, but two important pieces of equipment are on back order. Grimmett said they’re expected to arrive “in the final hour.”

Powers Elementary’s playground will be mulched Thursday morning. Trailers there have been hooked up and have new sidewalks.

At Amherst Junior High, all that remain are some touch-ups to landscaping. “The building’s just about ready. We just have to do a couple more coats of wax,” Grimmett said.

At Steele High, rusted-out flagpoles have been painted. Two courtyards have been given some new life and the east and south parking lots have been repaved.

Demolition timeline

Final building clean-out at the now-closed Shupe and Harris elementary schools will be Monday, Aug. 21.

Demolition is now expected to run from Sept. 9 through Nov. 6. Both buildings will be torn down during that window but Tim Rini of ICON Construction said Harris is higher on the priority list.

That’s because he wants the property cleared so construction of the new Powers Elementary can get underway as soon as design work is finished.

The exact start date for demolition hinges on when state officials process the required paperwork.

Lower demo costs

Demolition bids came in about $200,000 under the state’s estimates, said Amherst Schools superintendent Steven Sayers.

There’s a very good chance the savings can be applied toward the cost of building the new Powers Elementary.

School board president Ron Yacobozzi said that’s a relief, since there is a new requirement for a tornado shelter to be included in the PK-3 school — an addition that will drive up the building’s cost.

Neighbor visits

Residents who live next to the Harris/Powers construction site on South Lake Street will soon get a visit.

Chuck Grimmett, head of buildings and grounds for the Amherst Schools, said he plans to print up a flier to answer common-asked questions and head door-to-door to make sure everyone knows what is happening.

A fence is expected to go up around the Harris property in the next two weeks in anticipation of demolition.

Grimmett said he’ll be happy to see the fence, since he’s handled many calls about trespassers inside the closed school.