Summer a busy time for school upgrades

By Douglas McCulloch | Jul 31, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch A new fitness center was added to Dartmouth High School over the summer.

Several school updates — including a new fitness center, expanded pre-kindergarten spaces, and enviro-friendly upgrades — are nearing completion, in time for the first day of school on August 30.

School Business Administrator James Kiely detailed the projects at the July 31 School Committee meeting, with the $52,000 grant-funded fitness center being the highlight of the summer renovations.

The fitness center — complete with new workout equipment, flooring, and a larger workout space — will replace the existing space at Dartmouth High School. Much of the school’s existing equipment was old and acquired throughout the years, Kiely said. The renovation also opened space to add a new science classroom.

An energy efficient boiler retrofit was also installed at the high school. Funded through a green energy grant, Kiely said he expects it to be a cost-saver for the district. Air conditioning units are also being replaced as several have failed.

At Dartmouth Middle School, new spaces have been carved out for an occupational, physical therapy, and adaptive physical education room, as well as space for the school’s newly hired instructional technology specialist. A dedicated green screen was also set up.

In preparation for an expanded pre-kindergarten program at Potter Elementary School, staff have built a new playground area, drop-off point, and main entrance for preschool students. The classroom space has been spruced up as well with fresh paint and cosmetic fixes.

“Everything is close by, and that’s great for the kids,” Kiely said.

DeMello Elementary School’s administration offices have been reworked to better match the secure entrance point that was installed several years ago. The principal, nurses, and teachers’ rooms are now closer together to provide better access.

Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Gallishaw highlighted a wireless installation that will better manage and allocate the district’s upgraded 600 megabits-per-second of available bandwidth. A fourth network — which will allow visitors to access resources without bogging down the student network — is also in the works, as are security camera upgrades, Gallishaw said. Cash registers in school lunchrooms are also being upgraded.

Work is also underway on the district’s long-awaited facilities master plan, which will examine all of Dartmouth’s school buildings, how physical spaces are utilized, and the needs of the district.

Kiely said enough data has been collected from each school building and has been sent to Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, the architectural firm tasked with completing the plan. Kiely hopes to have a draft of the master plan ready by the end of August for the School Committee to review.

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