HOMER — A $21 million, three-phase project at Homer High School has completed renovations to the art room, music suite and auditorium, and installation of the gym floor is underway.
Plans to expand and remodel various parts of the school began early in 2015, with demolition work beginning in August 2015.
Renovations for the art room and music suite were completed in September, Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said Monday.
A renovation to the high school auditorium is also complete and the school plans to have it in use by the end of the month, Ruscio said.
During the renovations the school used the auditorium at the Homer Intermediate School for drama performances, Ruscio said.
Work on the gymnasium is in the final stretch with the sub-flooring done last week and the installation of the final layer of flooring started this week, Ruscio said.
The gym should be complete within a few weeks and in full use in February, she said.
During the construction, physical education classes were displaced to the school’s fitness and dance rooms, as well as a smaller gymnasium at the high school, Ruscio said.
Another part of the project close to being completed is the reconstruction of tennis courts. All that remains to be done is the markings on the courts, which should be painted some time in the spring, Ruscio said.
The school district offices have been moved from their original location in the southwest section of the high school to the east wing of the school. They are located in former classrooms renovated to fit the needs of the offices, Ruscio said.
The district offices settled here after the board explored, then rejected, moving them to the former Cinquanti Real Estate building at 77 S. West St., across Route 281 from the high school.
The plan was to lease the Cinquanti building instead of building new offices within the transportation facility next to the school, saving $678,590 that would be paid by taxpayers.
But by voting down the leasing option and keeping the offices in the high school, the district is able to receive $563,000 in state aid to make improvements to the transportation facility.
Ruscio said there was a lot of “juggling” of classes to different wings of the building as needed during the renovations for the offices.
The final phase of the project, renovations to the bus garage, is in the preliminary stages. Work to the garage’s roof, doors and asphalt just outside the doors will be included in the renovations, Ruscio said.
One phase of the project that has yet to begin is the construction of a new baseball fence at the high school. “That (the fence) is a spring project,” Ruscio said.
The entire renovation project so far has used $15,390,916 of the $21 million as of Dec. 31, said Michael Falls, director of business and finance at Homer schools.
Falls said when the project first started there was a reported impact to taxpayers of about 1.4 percent, now moving forward with the project, taxpayers will see a less than 1 percent increase to taxes because of the project.
Ruscio said the primary purpose of the project was to enhance safety at the school. Before the project the Music Department was housed in a separate building and students would have to exit the main building to attend class, she said.
With the project, that has been changed and a music room and new auditorium have been built inside the school.
“The gym was very small and there was several concussions reported,” Ruscio said.
Now, Ruscio said the gym is much larger.
District officials said in August 2015 said the new gym will be two to three times the size of its predecessor, putting it at about 6,000 square feet. Specific measurements were unavailable from school officials this morning.
Scope of proposed construction project
The $21 million Homer schools renovation project is partially complete, and part-way through the second of the three phases, $15,390,916 was spent as of Dec. 31.
– Renovation to art room and music suite completed in September.
– Construction of the gymnasium in final stretch with the top layer being added this week.
– Construction of tennis courts completed with markings scheduled to be painted in the spring.
Still to come:
– Construction of new baseball fence scheduled to begin in the spring.
– Renovations to bus garage’s roof, doors and asphalt in preliminary stages.