Bulldozers on the playground: GES renovation underway | RecordCourier.com

Bulldozers on the playground: GES renovation underway

by Scott Neuffer

The Douglas County School District’s oldest elementary school has begun its $6.1 million makeover.

On Tuesday, crowds gathered on the former playground of Gardnerville Elementary School for an official groundbreaking ceremony, although bulldozers and backhoes already were busy shaping a new building site near the soccer fields.

“We all will be united in a brand new facility that will carry us for 30 years into the future,” said GES Principal Shannon Brown. “We’re just excited. It’s been a long time in the making.”

The majority of construction now underway is expected to be finished by the start of the 2012 school year.

“We’re working to minimize any disruption of instruction,” Brown said. “Tearing down the old playground has been tough for some of the kids, but hopefully they’re excited to play on the new playground, which will be back behind the building near the soccer fields.”

Core Construction Superintendent Rich Davison said that the building pad itself should be finished by the end of this week.

“We’re putting in footings next week,” he said. “Students will probably see vertical construction by the middle of November.”

According to the company, the existing GES facility is 47,208 square feet. A new multipurpose room and adjacent wing of classrooms will add 17,510 square feet. However, come spring, demolition of the existing multipurpose room will subtract 6,846 square feet from the total. When completed, the company said, the new campus will entail 57,872 square feet.

After the old multipurpose room is razed, a new entrance will be created between the existing office and the Heritage Building. The path will take visitors to the new buildings further north, provide more parking, and reroute traffic to the southwest exit in a circular fashion.

Superintendent Lisa Noonan said the district will consider selling the Heritage building, which was built in 1917 but has become unsuitable for classrooms. Furthermore, safety issues addressed by the Keep Improving Douglas Schools Committee will be handled in the construction process, such as removing defunct gas lines from existing halls.

“It’s a great learning opportunity for the kids to see the construction process from beginning to end,” Noonan said.

For the school’s sixth-graders, the project is bittersweet.

“I just wish I could stay one more year and move into the new school,” said 11-year-old Sierra Franklin. “I can always come back and visit.”

Classmate Austin Caughlin had mixed feelings as well.

“I think it’s sad that all the memories of the old place are going away,” he said, “but it is exciting that we’re getting a new school.”

Austin said he’s looking forward to seeing how the new buildings look.

“I want to see the playground,” he said. “Probably the ball wall will be my favorite part.”

Brown thanked the district’s business services department, specifically Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna, for overseeing the development process, from funding to construction.

Noonan thanked voters of Douglas County for approving the continuation bond in 2008 that authorized funding for the project.

“We couldn’t have started this without their support,” she said.