Major internal, external improvement projects at SC


Morgan Fry, Editor in Chief

On Monday, Feb.14, noise levels started to increase, dust dispersed into the air, and students at SC glanced in curiosity as an excavator dug into the ground, SC Associate Principal Greg Gardner said. This marked the beginning of nearly seven months of significant construction projects at SC.  

Air conditioning installation, asbestos tile abatement, parking lot resurfacing, and a brand new scoreboard are at the forefront of the Board of Education’s (BOE) plans for improvements at the underclassman campus, Gardner said. 

“When looking at cost analysis and scope of projects, the school board and district really wanted to maximize the amount of money [LT is] investing this summer,” Gardner said. “With this type of construction, the more you can do, the more you can save money.”

Therefore, it made the most economical sense to conduct all of these projects in one summer, he said. This way, equipment, storage units, laborers, etc., could be brought in all at once, so LT could get the most amount of work accomplished, in the most cost and time effective way. The approximate budget for these projects is $6 million, which was determined and approved by the BOC throughout the fall semester, Superintendent Brian Waterman said. The plan is to complete all of these improvements projects in time for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Air conditioning

Air conditioning plans have been in the works at both NC and SC for years, Waterman said. However, the $1 million School Improvement Grant (SIG) LT obtained during the 2020-2021 school year was not enough to accommodate both campuses’ air conditioning needs. The board ultimately decided to move forward with the installation of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) units in both upper and lower B and C wings at SC, as well as parts of the hallway leading up to the cafeterias. 

Air conditioning at SC was a major problem at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Gardner said. SC had to implement its “heat plan” for many days in the beginning weeks of the year, as it was unsafe for students and staff to be learning in the non-air conditioned classrooms. This meant that classes normally held in the non-air conditioned classrooms were relocated to unoccupied air conditioned classrooms, as well as the Performing Arts Center (PAC). 

“We weren’t able to manage all of [the requests to relocate classes] this past school year, so with the whole B wing and C wing having air conditioning, that opens up a lot more space throughout the school day for us to move in classes who may not have air conditioning,” Gardner said. 

The hole—outside of Exit 26—dug on Feb. 14 made way for piping and AC equipment under the wings that will eventually connect to a chiller, which will be located near the Southwest Fields by the cafeterias. Fifty additional classrooms will be connected to the new chiller, which will increase the 25 currently air conditioned classrooms to 75, when the project is complete, Waterman said. 

“I think hallways in general will also be cooler because the air will travel throughout the school,” Gardner said. “Our goal is to make sure that students are cooler, staff are cooler, [and] ultimately [LT] can focus on instruction, especially in the first couple weeks of school, when it’s really important to connect and learn.”

Future plans are in the works to fully air condition SC, as well as NC, Waterman said. The district will continue to add air conditioning incrementally to each campus, as they have done in prior years. When both campuses are fully air conditioned, the school will have spent around $30 million on the air conditioning installments. 

Asbestos tiles abatement

SC has a number of asbestos tiles in J wing that are going to be removed this summer. Asbestos is a heat resistant, mineral fiber that was banned in the 1980s, as is a carcinogen; however, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is unlikely to release fibers if left undisturbed. 

Therefore, in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all community members, the project will take place during the summer, when the construction area can be completely closed off, Gardner said. 

South Parking Lot resurfacing 

The South Parking Lot—located between the Corral and SC building—is going to be resurfaced. In addition, all of the sidewalks in this area will be redone. 

“The hope is that [the sidewalk repairs] give access for those in wheelchairs and those who are visually impaired to Willow Springs Road,” Gardner said. 

Exit 25 floor replacement 

The flooring by the bus Exit 25 will also be replaced, as it has sustained some damage over the years, Gardner said. 

New scoreboard installation 

The BOC recently approved a new scoreboard to be installed on Bennett Field. The (size of board) has the ability to play videos, which can be utilized during football games. For example, fans will have the opportunity to view instant replays during games. In addition, Student Council is looking forward to planning some events to bring the LT community together, Gardner said. There is the potential for movie nights on Bennett Field, as well as ways to implement the scoreboard into graduation ceremonies, which are now being held on the field permanently.

Final thoughts

Although the school is eager to complete these necessary improvements, all of the construction taking place this summer is going to cause some disruptions, Gardner said. LT is unable to host summer school at SC and has moved all classes that would have taken place at SC to NC.

Incoming freshmen in particular may be impacted by this change, as many of them adapt to SC during summer school, and familiarize themselves with the environment before starting a full schedule in August, he said. 

“I [had hoped summer school would give] me the chance to get used to [my] campus,” Maeve Mahaney Park Junior High School ‘22 said. “[However], I am not really disappointed by the campus change.” 

Nonetheless, construction will be completed in time for Freshman Experience Day on Aug. 17, so incoming freshmen will still have the chance to learn their way around SC at that time, Gardner said. 

In addition, all athletics will still be taking place at SC this summer. The construction does not affect the Poolhouse, gyms, or Fieldhouse, so sports and activities will still be able to meet in these facilities. 

“I know that these are not necessarily the most exciting projects, but they are necessary,” Gardner said. “The hope is that this construction gets the community excited for future, more interesting improvements.”