...storms, asbestos impacting renovation have Campbellsville Ind. leaders pondering possible push back in opening day; board agrees to tobacco-free campus policy...

Central Kentucky News-Journal, Campbellsville, July 14, 2016

CES construction crew working to meet deadlines

Those who pass by Campbellsville Elementary School – no matter the time of day or night – will likely see construction crew members working to complete the school’s renovation in time for the new school year. And while heavy rain has impacted construction, those involved with the project say they are dedicated to finishing the project so children can attend school on schedule.

At the regular Campbellsville Board of Education meeting on Monday, July 11, Board members heard an update as to the progress of the construction.

Mitchell Roe, a construction manager at Codell Construction Co., showed photographs of the progress workers have made. He said brick and the stairs for the two-story classroom addition have been finished, work is continuing on the new entrance to the building and sprinkler heads and wiring are being installed in the new preschool classrooms.

“They’re trying awfully hard,” Roe said of the subcontractors at the site. “We are pushing extra, extra hard to meet all the deadlines in front of us. It’s going to be tough.”

Roe said all inspections must be complete before teachers are allowed to come into the CES building. While custodial staff members are allowed inside, teachers can’t occupy the building until all inspections are passed.

“We are somewhat at the mercy of all the inspectors,” he said.

The day of the meeting, Roe said, there were about 90 construction workers on site.

Campbellsville Independent Schools Superintendent Mike Deaton said work at CES has been interrupted by the discovery of some asbestos in the cafeteria, which delayed the project several days, and recent heavy rainfall.

Deaton said there have been several conversations about the upcoming opening day of the 2016-2017 school year, set for Wednesday, Aug. 3, and whether enough work will be complete for teachers and students to use the CES building.

He said Roe couldn’t, as of now, give a good estimate as to when teachers might be able to enter the building and begin preparing for the school year. That might be clearer in about a week, Deaton said.

Roe said workers were about to overcome the delay caused by the additional asbestos found in the cafeteria.

“The rain has absolutely killed us,” he said. “As everybody knows who lives here, we had a lot of rain here.”

Roe said some “bad” soil has been found in the parking lot, which has to be removed from the CES site.

“I’m not giving up,” Roe said. “I’m not ready to concede.”

Deaton said he has a plan that would give construction workers an additional five days to get the building ready. In that plan, opening day would be moved to Monday, Aug. 8, and students would attend school until 3 p.m. on Fridays, until after Labor Day. They would then be released at 1 p.m. on Fridays.

The three days of lost instructional time would be made up, Deaton said, and having those days to work would allow workers more time to finish the construction project.

“We’re not ready to concede that yet,” Deaton said.

“And I’m not ready to ask for it,” Roe said.

Board Chair Pat Hall said she and Board member Suzanne Wilson recently visited the CES construction site and asked for a tour. Hall said she was amazed at the progress the subcontractors have made.

“And I mean from top to bottom,” she said. “From the architectural firm to the electrical firm to every one of the subcontractors.”

There were about 68 people working on site the day Hall and Wilson visited.

“And I mean, I’ve never seen people work like that,” Hall said.

Workers have been logging 12-hour work days, she said, and work seven days a week.

“It is simply amazing what they have accomplished and what they are doing,” she said. “It was very educational to find out how high-tech the building is going to be.”

Renovations planned at CES include the addition of four new classrooms, a new HVAC unit, a fire suppression system, interior finishes, new kitchen and cafeteria, new restrooms, renovation of existing classrooms, a new playground for preschool students and work to administrative suites, parking areas and the front façade. The project began in March and is expected to take about 10 months to complete.

Once renovations are complete at CES, and then later at CMS, all fourth- and fifth-grade students will be housed at CES, making it a more traditional elementary school, and the CMS building will better suit the needs of a middle school.

The CES project will cost about $9.7 million.

In other news, the board also approved becoming a tobacco-free school district. It will come into effect at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. No tobacco products will be allowed on CIS property.

Deaton said during Monday night’s meeting that he, for some time, hasn’t been receptive of such a policy. He said his concerns center on how the policy will be implemented and enforced.

“If you’re going to have a rule … then it’s there to be enforced,” he said. “And, then, therefore, it’s up to us as administrators and teachers to see to it that it is enforced.”

Because students felt strongly enough about the issue to come before the Board and ask for such a policy, Deaton said, he asked for a sample policy to consider.

Jackie Hodges, health educator at the Taylor County Health Department, said 52 school districts in Kentucky have approved similar tobacco-free policies.

Deaton asked Hodges if she believes the policy is a step in the right direction.

“Yes,” she said. “I mean, that would protect everybody [who] comes on your school campus.”

Hodges said the policy covers cigarettes, chewing tobacco and the newly popular electronic cigarettes.

Deaton said some grants are available to help the District pay for signs advertising the new policy.

The new policy will be announced at football games and other sporting events.

“I agree with what the kids are wanting to do, and I think it’s up to us to support that. Not being a tobacco user myself, it’s not going to effect me other than some of the kickback that we get from it. But when you’re trying to look out for folks’ health, I think surely to goodness there won’t be too much kickback on it,” Deaton said.

Deaton said the policy will be permanent, but could be changed if Board members vote to do so.

According to the policy, all students, personnel and visitors are prohibited from using any tobacco products, including alternative and vapor products, on property owned or operated by the school district. Tobacco products are also prohibited inside Board-owned vehicles, on the way to and from school and during school-sponsored trips and activities.

Students who violate the policy will be subject to penalties as listed in their school’s code of conduct.

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