Now that school’s out for summer, construction has gone into high gear at Kalispell’s five existing elementary schools.
Demolition work kicked off Monday at Edgerton, Elrod, Russell and Hedges elementary schools.
Gone are the Edgerton administrative offices, and at Russell the playground has been razed — which includes the wooden dinosaur — in preparation for building a new gym. While the wooden dinosaur was an unofficial Russell landmark, it was in was in too poor of condition to be salvaged, according to Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau.
Construction continues on Peterson’s new gym, having begun in May, according to Project Manager Shawn Baker of Swank Enterprises on Tuesday. Swank is the general contractor for the elementary school renovations.
“[At] Peterson we have the concrete masonry block going up on the gym and have started the remodel on the inside of the building. We broke ground for the gym at Elrod. At Hedges, we started the heating, ventilating, air conditioning project replacement on Monday. At Edgerton we started demolition yesterday [Monday], and at Russell we also started demolition yesterday and we’ll start the gym next month,” Baker said.
Kalispell’s newest school — Rankin Elementary on Airport Road — is set for completion in July with the building about 85 to 90 percent completed.
“We’re on budget and ahead of schedule,” said project superintendent Lane Huffman of Langlas & Associates.
On Tuesday morning, Huffman took time out to give a tour of the building. Inside the job site office trailer Huffman first showed some keepsakes students had given him noting that he had given a tour to kindergarteners. He held up a tiny dinosaur made from purple plastic filament — a nod to the school’s raptor mascot and school colors. In addition to purple, the school colors include silver and white.
“A kindergartener made this on a 3-D printer,” Huffman said and smiled, placing it back on a shelf beside another student-made gift, a drinking glass with a dinosaur decal.
The first stop was the commons and eating area. This would be the final area to have dry wall installed during the week and prepped for painting. Another stop on the tour was the gym. Inside, small stacks of white maple floorboards were arranged throughout the space in order to acclimate to humidity levels. Acclimating the floorboards to moisture levels in the air prior to installation is a critical step, according to Huffman. He said it’s now up to Mother nature to cooperate after the recent rainy weather. If the boards are installed when humidity levels are high, the wood may shrink, leaving gaps he said. If the floorboards are installed when humidity levels are too low, cupping could result as the dry wood absorbs moisture.
The kindergarten and first-grade pod, located on the first floor, is about 97 percent complete, Huffman said. Also located on the first floor is the second- and third-grade pod, which is about 90 percent complete. Upstairs, is the fourth- through fifth-grade pod, which is 80 percent complete.
The pods have been painted in shades of orange, aqua and green and feature centralized multipurpose areas enclosed in glass walls and breakout areas for collaborative learning across subjects.
Back outside, landscaping is starting with crews receiving deliveries of trees and materials.
Huffman anticipates the building will be completed in July with furniture moved in on July 30.
The elementary schools are part of a $25.3 million elementary district bond issue.
During a Tuesday school board meeting, trustees approved locating a storage facility at the southeastern corner of the Airport Road property to be used by the Kalispell student-built homes high school program. The facility will encompass two fenced-in shipping containers and an access road. The project will cost roughly $20,000 and will be covered by general fund money. In addition to the $20,000, Kalispell-based LHC Incorporated has donated $10,000 to building the access road.
In the high school district, Missoula-based Outback Construction was selected to complete the first phase of the H.E. Robinson Vocational Agriculture Center with a base bid of $716,000. Construction begins June 18.
The district received four other bids from Davidson Construction, Frontier Builders at Whitefish, Meredith Construction and Swank Enterprises.
Phase one encompasses constructing a veterinary science building and equipment storage building in addition to relocating the greenhouse. Rather than relocate the septic system as originally planned, the district intends to tie into the city sewer system, deciding it was the best option. The district is now seeking approval from the City of Kalispell. The plan is to complete the sanitary system project in the second phase of construction, which covers renovation of the existing vo-ag building.
The second phase of construction will be bid out in the winter according Erick Enz of Axiom Builders. Enz is serving as the school district’s representative during construction.
Progress continues at Flathead High School as crews being building a new gym in place of the now demolished small gym located behind the school.
At Linderman Alternative High School, construction documents will be drawn up following the recent completion of design development. The plan is to bid the work out in the fall Enz said.
The vo-ag center, Flathead and Linderman are part of a $28.8 million high school district bond issue that includes Legends Stadium renovations and deferred maintenance projects at Glacier High School.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.