BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Many students and faculty are upset over the construction at Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central high schools. But few realize the work going on backstage.
The much-needed renovations at both high schools will take two or three years to complete and bring the buildings up to current fire, electric and other codes, said Elia Gontzes, project manager for the Tratanos Contracting Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y., the general contractor.
“The building was up to code when it was originally built,” Gontzes said, but today that code is inadequate for new technology and handicapped accessibility.
While construction is going well, it is behind in schedule due to a delay in signing the necessary contracts last summer.
“Eastern has about eight or nine phases while Central has eight. Each phase covers about 16 to 18 rooms at a time and both projects are similar,” said Gontzes. The phases involving heavy construction are mostly taking place in the summers to avoid problems.
“We hope to have the first phase completed by December,” said Gontzes. The English hall at Eastern should be ready for Christmas.
By the end of the school year, the English, social studies and biology halls in Eastern’s northwest corner “from upstairs to downrd” should be finished, said Leo Spencer, who acts as a representative for the Board of Education and works with and oversees the construction.
The renovations at both schools will ultimately involve tremendous improvements. Among the changes, said Spencer, will be two new gymnasium floors that have new foundations and drainage to
insure that they will last, the moving of administrative offices, and the latest in mechanical, electrical, and technological changes.
Also in store for both schools are new libraries, computer labs, science laboratories, and upgrades to the music wings, art wings and athletic fields. Central’s fields are nearly done already.
Another new addition, Spencer said, is that the schools will be “semi air-conditioned.”
This means the air system will be adjusted to a “tempered air system,” he said, not to “cool the building from 80 to 70 degrees” but to “take down the mugginess.”
One of the largest parts of the construction is putting in a new boiler/heating system. It will allow the use of new heating valves and create a new hot water unit as well, said Spencer.
While the renovations have caused trouble and confusion to students and staff alike, Spencer said both have been understanding and supportive.
“I appreciate the kindness for understanding the inconvenience,” he said. He also said that extra rooms in both schools have been a “blessing” and without them much movement would have been
“I have worked in schools where they had no extra rooms,” said Gontzes. “It’s terrible.”
One of the few problems has been with possible safety issues involving some students crossing construction boundaries.
“Kids should take notice of the construction going on,” said Spencer. “The last thing we want to see is someone getting hurt.”
“Use common sense,” said Gontzes. “Don’t cross the boundaries.”
Jessica Norton is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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