Lake Shore schools’ project nears end of first phase
Special to the OBSERVER
ANGOLA — One of the things a school district capital construction project can do is ensure building integrity. As expected, large-scale roof, electrical and plumbing systems all get renovated, repaired or replaced. But a project can also redesign the way a school conducts its various interactions with students, staff and community.
Making the district’s buildings work better to serve those groups is part of what’s being accomplished with the ongoing $59.8 million capital construction project at Lake Shore Central Schools.
Approved by voters in 2017, the project is now nearing the end of Phase 1, which has focused primarily on transportation facilities and the high school.
At the high school, safety and security protocols are being strengthened with new security systems that are significantly more advanced than the system that was in place.
For example, says John Wilson, Director of Facilities, the district is updating to a much more secure main entrance. “Nobody gets in without being buzzed in,” he said. “We changed the entrance structure so there is a second buzz in. You can’t just walk directly into the building after that first door.”
In addition, the area just inside the entrance has been re-designed to consolidate non-classroom areas where the general public, parents and students are most likely to come and go during the day.
These areas — the main office, guidance areas and nurse’s office — are close to the front, rather than deep in the building. This allows electronic access control and easy identification of all who enter the building, as well as more efficient video monitoring.
“Safety is paramount and a top priority in all phases of the project,” said Wilson. “All of our building entrances, main offices, foyers and health offices are being designed as safe and secure facilities for students, staff and community.”
At the high school, the nurse’s office now offers a more private space for addressing students’ physical and mental health needs. It includes a curtained three-bed “sick bay,” a private exam room for physicals, and a large, ADA-compliant restroom area complete with shower.
The School Counseling Center offices are also in this area and are set up so discussions with students and parents can be more private. There also is a new College and Careers Center in the Counseling Center, allowing students to research potential career paths and get help preparing college applications.
In addition, for public convenience, the restrooms in the auditorium area in the front lobby are being expanded and renovated.
“We have main mechanical systems in our facilities, such as HVAC, plumbing, water and electrical services, which are at the end of their useful life and need replacement,” said Wilson. “In similar vein, the educational and service systems in our facilities also must evolve to meet the changes in security, technology and program needs.”
Work is now underway to prepare for the launch of Phase 2, which encompasses arts, athletics and technology renovations. Approval from the NYS Education Department is anticipated this fall, with construction starting in early 2020. At the high school, this work will entail additions to the music, physical education and technology areas, as well as additional team locker rooms, gym upgrades and resurfaced tennis courts. Both the high school and middle school will see auditorium renovation, and the gym will be upgraded at the middle school.
Elementary projects include replacement of the playgrounds and outdoor basketball court at Highland, renovation of classroom restrooms and renovation of a former locker room into instructional space, as well as refinishing the wood stage floor. At J.T. Waugh, air conditioning will be provided to second floor classrooms.