Some of Flathead High School’s classrooms offer the best views of construction progress as an addition is built on the west side.
One is math teacher Roger Rudd’s classroom on the second floor, where Flathead Principal Michele Paine stopped by on Tuesday.
“This was the primo room during demolition to come look out the window,” Paine said.
Ten classrooms, a lecture hall, small gym and boiler room were demolished in the spring, at times captivating the attention of everyone inside. In the time since demolition, a wall of the gym has gone up and the dust has settled on student distraction. Sounds of construction were faintly audible in the classroom where students were busy working on assignments under the supervision of math teacher Mike Thiel, who shares Rudd’s classroom after being displaced by construction. Soon, Rudd also will need to relocate when construction moves to his classroom.
“It’s one of the pains of construction because we lost 10 classrooms,” Paine said.
New construction encompasses 47,997 square feet and includes 17 classrooms, the gym, locker rooms, breakout spaces, conference rooms and boiler room.
Crews have been busy interchanging between steel framing and masonry work with only a small section of Fifth Avenue West temporarily cordoned off during the day as a staging area. Swank Enterprises Project Superintendent Stan DeBlauw said about 60 percent of the steel and masonry work is completed. He anticipates the addition will be enclosed sometime in November.
Downstairs, in the hallway outside the commons, a section of drywall separates students from construction going on outside. Paine opened a door with a small window and a sign taped below it alerting students to construction in progress. Stepping outside, she faced several enormous steel beams angled against the second floor of the new addition. This is where an open staircase will be constructed. Gone are the “half floors” and lecture hall.
“Right here — where the lecture hall was — is going to be four classrooms,” Paine said sweeping her hand across the space. “There’s going to be a movable wall, so that it can be one great big classroom. It can be two larger classrooms or four regular-sized classrooms.”
This offers the flexibility from testing large groups to holding a regular class.
The priority of construction now is getting the boiler systems in the new mechanical room online, according to Paine and DeBlauw.
“We have no heat currently in the building. The estimated hookup for that is Oct. 1 — cross our fingers it won’t be really cold,” Paine said.
The construction project is expected to be completed by August 2019 and comes out of a $28.8 million high school district bond that impacts the H.E. Robinson Vocational Agriculture Center, Linderman Education Center, Legends Stadium and Glacier High School.
The vo-ag center is also in the midst of construction. The first phase of construction started in June and is anticipated to be completed this winter when second-phase projects will go out to bid, according to Tom Coburn of Morrison-Maierle. The first phase includes a new veterinary science building, greenhouse and pole barn. The second phase of construction covers north entry, a south classroom and welding department additions, including remodeling the existing building.
Construction is also underway on the school district’s five elementary buildings as part of a $25.3 million elementary district bond issue. Also part of the elementary district bond issue was building a sixth school, Rankin Elementary, which opened in August.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or email@example.com.