Local elementary schools ready for first day of class

School remodeling projects to finish on time, within budget

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teachers and staff at two elementary schools begin moving into new classrooms this week as remodeling projects near completion.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Projects at Harborview in downtown and Glacier Valley in the Mendenhall Valley will be completed on time and within budget, district facilities coordinator Deb Morse said.

Children will return for classes at both schools on Aug. 31 to see new furniture, carpet, lighting, paint and fixtures.

The price tag for both projects is about $27.9 million. A state reimbursement program will cover the majority, and Juneau voters in 2007 approved a bond for most of the balance.

The entire district custodial staff worked Monday at Harborview to move boxes of teachers' supplies into classrooms and bring stacks of books into the new library.

Third-grade teacher Cherry Eckland spent Monday morning opening stacks of boxes and setting up her new classroom.

"Having everything crisp and clean and new feels good," Eckland said.

The Harborview remodel was done in 15 months, with students and staff spending the last school year next door in the Marie Drake building.

The remodel at Glacier Valley was completed over the course of three years. Work last year brought a new commons, kitchen, bathrooms and office but this year, the new classrooms and front entry will really make an impact on students, Principal Ted Wilson said.

"They will definitely feel like they're walking into a new school," Wilson said.

Both schools' lighting, ventilation, heating and plumbing systems received upgrades.

At Harborview, a firing range that had been closed for years was cleaned up, which required removing lead, and converted into classrooms. The entire school will be brighter due to added windows, even in the basement.

A larger, colorful playground, and a second one on the Glacier Avenue side of the building, have already drawn the eyes of many local school children, Morse said.

Juneau-based McGraw Construction did the work at the downtown school for $16.5 million.

Dawson Construction of Bellingham, Wash., completed the Glacier Valley remodel for $11.4 million.

Bids for both schools came in higher than engineer estimates in 2008, requiring the Juneau Assembly to approve about $2.5 million in transfers from a fund set aside by the district for maintenance.

A grand opening will be held at Harborview on Sept. 4 so the community can see the new school.

Wilson invited community members to Glacier Valley anytime after the first day, and said a grand opening will be scheduled later.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279.

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