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Renovations to begin on BCHS library, auditorium in 2019

Filed in Archive, BCHS, District, District News by on December 31, 2018

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Construction work is expected to begin in 2019 on the $32.2 million Bethlehem Central School District capital project approved by voters in 2016. Two of the most anticipated projects – renovations of the Library Media Center and the auditorium at the high school – are among those set to get underway in the new year.

“The new year is shaping up to be an exciting one here in Bethlehem,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “We recently received final approval from the State Education Department to move forward with our capital construction. We have been anxious to get started and are pleased to announce that work on our cornerstone projects at the high school will begin in early 2019.”

Superintendent Monroe said the referendum approved in 2016 will support building and site renovations, security upgrades, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work throughout the district. Approximately 53 percent of the project work will take place at the high school, she said.

“Often, with a capital project, much of the important work largely goes unseen. This time around we will have some very visible projects, mostly taking place at the high school,” said Ms. Monroe. “The work will transform our 1950s-era auditorium into a state-of-the-art performing space and will modernize the library, making it a more welcome, collaborative and flexible space for teaching and learning.”

A tentative timeline

Monroe said the district’s facilities and operations staff have been working for more than three years on planning and design, in collaboration with architects, faculty and staff and community groups. They have established a tentative timeline for construction, and are currently working on preliminary plans to streamline any relocation and rescheduling that will be necessary during construction.

The district plans to solicit bids for the capital project work during the month of January and expects the Board of Education to award contracts by the end of February.

Monroe said after high school students and staff return from the holiday break they will be greeted with poster-size design plan renderings for renovations that will begin in 2019:

BCHS Auditorium

The original auditorium, which was constructed in 1952 was identified as a high priority for a capital investment. Scheduled work includes a complete renovation of the interior seating and stage areas, and the addition of air conditioning. Enhanced performance experiences will be supported by increasing the height of the “fly loft,” widening the stage proscenium, and adding a thrust stage. These stage improvements will accommodate larger and more complex set designs and large music ensembles, and provide greater visibility and flexibility for audience members and performers. The auditorium will expand into the high school lobby to allow for addition of a theatrical control booth and an improved entry. The renovations will take place within the school’s existing footprint.

Tentative construction timeline:

  • High school auditorium closes for year-long renovation from April 16, 2019 to April 16, 2020.

BCHS  Library Media Center

The LMC, which was constructed in 1967 and expanded in 1996, was also identified as a prime opportunity to improve the student learning experience. The work encompasses a complete renovation of library, teaching, and support spaces, transforming the LMC into a more learning environment. Improvements to the space include diverse teaching and study spaces, a central hub seating area, a Makerspace, and an innovative classroom. The Information Technology Helpdesk will be relocated off the corridor and new gathering areas will be added to liven the main corridor, extending the LMC’s influence outside its walls.

Tentative construction timeline:

  • January-February 2019: District begins to prepare HS Room D-122 for use as a temporary library.
  • June 1, 2019-October 31, 2019: Library Media Center closes for renovations.

Some of the design elements at the high school also reflect the community’s 17th-century history as a Hudson River settlement. The high school renovations are designed to promote movement and visual flow from one area to another. Curved lines in the Library Media Center evoke the river’s path through the Hudson Valley and state-of-the-art acoustics in the auditorium will be aided by ceiling tiles designed to resemble a river rock bed.

Facilities and Operations Director Gregg Nolte said that he has been working closely with staff and building administrators to minimize the impact of construction on the district’s academic and extracurricular programs.

“We involve as many people as we can along the way to ensure not only that the work meets the needs and expectations of the community but that it gets done in the most efficient, painless way possible,” said Nolte. “While we are excited to get going, we want to communicate as much as possible as to what our staff, students, and residents can expect over the next two years.

“We are starting that effort at the high school, where the bulk of the work will take place,” said Nolte.

Nolte said he hopes that excitement about the opportunities that will be gained with these renovations will outweigh any inconveniences during construction.

“I believe the school community will be as enthusiastic as we are to get these projects moving,” said Nolte.

The tentative timeline for other projects at the high school include:

  • Spring 2019-September 2019 – High school stadium renovation
  • Spring 2019-Spring 2020 – High school baseball fields reconstruction and improvements
  • March 2019-August 2019 – Upgrades to high school pool finishes
  • June 15, 2019- October 31, 2019 – High school kitchen renovations.
  • November 2019-January 2020 – HS Room D122 renovations (additional upgrades will take place in 2020)
  • Fall 2019-Winter 2020 – HS bathroom renovations
  • March 2020-August 2020 – HS pool mechanical improvements
  • Ongoing – Installation of additional security cameras
  • To Be Determined – HS D Wing windows
  • To Be Determined – HS Main Office new rooftop HVAC Unit
  • To Be Determined – Rooftop HVAC Unit
  • To Be Determined – Asbestos abatement

Additional details will be posted to the district website as preparations get underway in January and February, Nolte said.