LINN — It won’t be long before the dust settles at Reek School.
But since day one of the new school year, teachers and students have been more than aware of the ongoing construction of the $2.8 million remodeling project.
“On the very first day of school, Scherrer Construction had a representative who addressed the students in assemblies,” Principal Samantha Polek said in a Sept. 17 phone interview. “They talked about safety and the construction equipment they would see, why there are orange cones and what types of things they should avoid.”
The project, which was approved by district voters in November 2012, called for various types of construction, including roof and brick replacement; a new 180-foot entrance drive off South Lake Shore Drive; an expanded parking lot; and rebuilding the main entrance, which should soon include a foyer.
All of this, naturally, has been very intriguing, according to Polek.
She said Reek students have been learning about construction firsthand.
“Children are fascinated with machinery and there are some fascinating trucks out here,” Polek said. “(The Scherrer representative) told everyone what each machine does.”
Apparently, amid the controlled chaos of the construction, students capitalized on some firsthand educational opportunities.
“Children can see out their classroom windows and teachers make that a learning experience for them,” Polek said. “It’s good for them to see it.”
But soon, the project will be completed.
Polek said they’re just waiting for construction workers to complete the front entrance and to lay the final coat of asphalt over the driveway that visitors will use to enter the Reek parking lot.
“We think they may be done with the front entrance in another two to four weeks,” Polek said. “That’s their projection. We’re hoping for two.”
Last month, she said the target completion date for the project was the end of September.
The roof, the brick work, windows, wireless Internet access — all these aspects of the project are completed, Polek said.
However, she and administrative assistant Ronda Davis are still using the school’s library as an office.
In an Aug. 7 interview, Polek said they hoped to be in the new main office by Sept. 3.
“We could move back, and we probably will this week,” Polek said Sept. 17. “It’s just that main entrance is still (under construction) and we will still be using a temporary entrance.”
The new entrance includes a foyer. People who visit Reek will have to go through the front office, ending the days of being buzzed in and gaining direct access to the school’s main hallway.
Aside from increasing school safety, the new entrance affords other opportunities.
“We will have some video monitors in (the foyer) and we will share some film footage of our students, rolling photos of them,” Polek said.
Despite still needing one more coat on the new 180-foot access drive that was installed off South Lake Shore Drive, Polek said they can start using it.
This should alleviate current traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times.
Polek said during the project, school buses and parents have been using the same lanes in the lot.
“People have been patient and when buses and parents are all using the bus lane, we dismiss the bus students first,” she said. “Parents follow the buses. It’s been a good system.”
Polek also credited teachers for being extra cautious during the construction, staying with children and ensuring that they wait until it’s safe to walk to their parents’ vehicles.
The parking lot has been redesigned and 36 stalls were added.
Traffic flow will be redirected so that the west side of the L-shaped lot will be used for bus traffic only.
Motorists dropping off and picking up children will do so on the eastern side of the lot, which is where the new entrance drive is located.