Corrective floor tile replacement underway at the High School
Work at Bethlehem Central High School began last month to replace the tiled floor in the front entrance and main hallway, which had been problematic since it was installed four years ago as part of extensive renovations at the school.
This means that for a short period after students return in September, they will walk on a concrete subfloor in that area until the new porcelain tiles are installed.
The front entrance and main hallway were redone in 2007 as part of the major districtwide bond project. Many of the tiles in those areas had become loose and were cracking, popping up or shifting since they were installed.
To begin remedying this situation — and to ultimately ensure that the district had to pay for as little of the fix as possible — officials engaged a consultant to inspect the tiles to analyze what had gone wrong. It was determined that the necessary steps had not been taken at the time of installation to prevent moisture from compromising the integrity of the flooring system.
So, work crews recently took up all the tiles and flooring elements down to the earth. Next, they will install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture problems in the future, and then the concrete subfloor. The tiles will be replaced with the same style used in 2007, meaning the floor will look the same as when the entrance and hallway were newly renovated.
Because the work is being done in stages, when students return in the fall, they will be walking on the concrete subfloor. The walkways will be safe, and the approach will allow the necessary time for that floor to cure and dry before the tiles are installed.
Contractors are expected to then lay the tiles down during evening hours in two phases — one half of the hallway at a time — to ensure that the area is passable while the work continues. The project should be finished in its entirety by December.
Visitors to the High School over the summer should use an alternate entrance. Those who need to go to the main office or Counseling Center should use the Gym B entrance. The route to these offices is marked by signs.
The entire tile replacement project is expected to cost about $260,000. The district has been working with its legal team to ensure that it recoups as much of the cost as possible.
With the floor continuing to deteriorate structurally and aesthetically, officials decided to move forward with the project now, while they await the outcome of how much the work will cost the district, if at all. The time and expense involved in short-term repairs was growing, and the district preferred to head off any potential safety issues before the floor got worse.