Workmen are racing to finish the extensive renovation and modernization work at Blythe Park and Hollywood schools so the schools can open for the first day on Aug. 27. Contractors will not hit the Aug. 16 target date for completing the project, but the man overseeing the work says he is very confident that the schools will be ready by the first day of school.
“I’m almost 95-percent confident that we can get the kids in,” said Ramesh Nair, who is serving as the owner’s representative for Riverside Elementary School District 96 for the school improvement project.
Tradesmen are working 10-hour days, six days a week now as they head toward finishing the project. They are installing lights and other ceiling fixtures, drywall partitions and connecting electrical panels as well as installing temperature control panels. The focus is on getting classrooms and essential offices ready for Aug. 27, Nair said.
The vinyl tile installer will work evenings this week so that the tile can be laid when the other workmen are not present, according to Nair.
“Too many tradesmen are working on top of each other,” said Nair, often slowing the process.
It is possible that some finishes will have to be installed after school opens, but Nair said that he expects that would only be in non-instructional spaces.
“I’m talking about one office doesn’t get done, doesn’t get the floor tile on it,” Nair said. “That’s not my main concern.”
At this point the schools still look like construction zones, but that will change quickly as the finishes are installed and the painting is completed.
“There are some little chinks in the armor here and there, but it’s not from product, it’s because everything has to fall in sequence, in the right order,” Nair said. “You can everything ready to go, but if one guy falls out of the block, it can trip up the other guy.”
Blythe Park is ahead of the Hollywood right now, Nair said, because it is a larger school and tradesmen have been able to install more finishes.
The mechanical systems at Blythe Park are expected to be started up on Aug. 14, while the mechanical systems at Hollywood won’t be turned on until next week.
Moving the principal’s office at Hollywood School made the work there more difficult, since part of the roof was removed from the building to make that change.
“That was a bit of a monkey wrench in the whole process, because the steel had to be measured a couple of times before they could come out there,” Nair said. “But that’s all done so we’re getting close. The roof has to finish, the drywall needs to go in, the flooring needs to happen, and we close it up and we’ll be ready to finish.”
Work at L.J. Hauser Junior High School is just about complete. At Hauser, which underwent a major renovation in 2012, the multipurpose room (the so called bump-out room) was remodeled and new bleachers were installed in the main gym. The main gym also was painted and the gym floor was refinished.
“That will definitely be done,” Nair said. “We had no issues there.”
Blythe Park and Hollywood schools are undergoing 21st-century modernization similar to what was done at Hauser, Central and Ames Schools last summer. Completely new mechanical systems, including air conditioning, are being installed at both schools. New interior finishes are going in throughout the schools and the electrical systems are undergoing a major upgrade to support the modern electronic technology used in schools today.
The schools are scheduled to be inspected by the West 40 Intermediate Service Center, the agency that issues occupancy permits for schools, on Aug. 21.
Nair said that considering the asbestos abatement work that had to be performed before the main work could begin, it is impressive that the schools could be transformed in a little over two months.
“Ordinarily a project like this wouldn’t be completed in 90 days,” Nair said. “We started on June 15, and we’re turning it over in 65 days. It’s pretty amazing that it’s all come together in 65 days and we’re at the finish line.”