By Alex Lippa
---- — Students have long departed for the summer, but area schools are still bustling with activity.
Planned maintenance and school renovations are underway across the county.
“We have our usual summer maintenance list,” said Jane Simard, business administrator for the Derry School District. “But there are no major projects on tap for this summer.”
Within a week of school ending, a walkway paving project at West Running Brook School in Derry was completed. Simard said Derry schools customarily will do painting, carpet replacement and electrical work every summer.
While Derry is in relatively good shape, other districts wish they could do more.
In Londonderry, voters rejected a $4.5 million district-wide renovation and construction bond at Town Meeting in March.
“We’ve had to put many of our projects on hold,” Londonderry business administrator Peter Curro said. “It’s frustrating, but no is no.”
Curro said district officials had hoped to do major repairs to the roof at Londonderry Middle School and paving at Matthew Thornton School this summer. Instead, they will settle for replacing the gym floor at North School and doing a minor roofing project at the high school.
Those projects and other smaller renovations will cost about $500,000, Curro said.
That’s the same amount they will be spending in the Timberlane School District. Facilities manager Jim Hughes said replacing modular classrooms at Timberlane Regional High School is the most extensive project he will tackle this year.
“We’ll be removing old units and bringing in new units,” he said.
Hughes said many of the projects being done are by subcontractors, but his staff tries to do as many projects as possible by themselves.
“It saves the taxpayers a lot of money,” he said. “Anything my people can do will cost about two-thirds less.”
Windham schools were set to have a routine summer, but after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the School Board voted to spend up to $178,000 to upgrade the security systems.
“We are completely redoing the entryway at Golden Brook School for security reasons,” business administrator Adam Steel said. “Sandy Hook motivated us to get that done quicker than we had originally planned.”
Steel said the way the building was designed, there would have to be a staff member watching the door at all times. Steel said extra security cameras were being installed at schools around the district.
In Salem, three schools will see major renovations.
Fisk, Soule, and Haigh schools will see $16.2 million in renovations starting this summer. None of the schools have had a significant renovation done in more than 50 years.
At Fisk and Soule schools, the repairs include creating kindergarten classrooms, installing fire safety sprinkler systems, upgrading the heating and ventilation systems, and removing asbestos. Those repairs will cost $15.8 million.
The other $369,000 will go toward roof, ceiling, security and fire alarm improvements at Haigh School.
In Hampstead, both schools will undergo some significant changes. Hampstead Central will have a portion of the pitched roof replaced. Hampstead Middle School’s exterior will be painted and a new water treatment system installed. The total cost of projects at the two schools will be about $160,000.
“Our budget was less than what it typically is,” facilities director Michael Hall said. “We have a long list of things that need to be done, it would be good to have money to do them all. But I’m doing the best that I can.”
School officials said projects are spread out throughout the summer to plan around activities going on at the school.
“We know we have just seven or eight weeks to get these things done,” Hughes said of Timberlane’s projects. “So, we have to just schedule things accordingly.”