HUDSON — Those driving by the Hudson Middle School can see the progress of the new building as it takes shape.

"The building is really beginning to take an architectural identity," said Bill Schurman, P.E., a partner with Hammond Construction, during an update last month of the district's construction projects. "We are past the skeleton now. This is an exciting time. The stairs on either side are in place. There will be really cool student seating underneath the stairwell."

The concrete slabs in the gym also have been poured, Schurman said.

In addition, the brickwork and roofing are "substantially complete." Window installation is in process, interior walls are being boarded and finished, and work on the mechanical and electrical infrastructure continues.

"We are absolutely where we want to be with the middle school," Schurman said. "Any surprises we have had have been very minor."

The new $46 million, 181,000-square-foot middle school will house the district’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The new middle school, which the district broke ground on in September 2018, is east of the current middle school and Malson Field.

Sheryl Sheatzley, manager of communications and alumni outreach, said the new building is scheduled to open August 2020.

Superintendent Phil Herman said at the Jan. 6 school board meeting that the district received the occupancy permits for the Ada Cooper Miller Natatorium Jan. 3, and "on Jan. 4, people were swimming in it."

Steve Marlow, director of business and operations, said at the December work session that the $3.2 million improvements on the natatorium at East Woods Elementary School includes new pool equipment, a new scoreboard and starting blocks, a new filtration system, replacing the HVAC system, refinishing the locker rooms, replacing the roof, electrical system upgrades and acoustical treatment.

"I think it looks awesome," Marlow said of the Natatorium.

The above projects and future renovations are being funded through an $81.5 million, 4.97-mill bond issue passed by voters in November 2017.

School treasurer Phillip Butto said in a Jan. 9 interview that both the middle school construction and the renovations and expansion at Ellsworth Hill Elementary were on time and on budget.

Elementary school buildings

Schurman said the masonry at Ellsworth Hill "is just about complete" and that the windows were in on the expansion. The roofing over the addition also is about 90 percent complete, the interior walls have been framed and work continues on mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

The improvements at Ellsworth Hill will add 11 classrooms for the district’s first and second graders, starting in the 2020-21 school year. Currently the building, which opened in August 2007, houses the district’s pre-kindergarten and second grade students.

The Ellsworth Hill addition will cost about $6.14 million.

The district has several renovation plans for the near future. John Peterson, project manager for GPD Group, said that when renovations start at McDowell and East Woods elementary schools, which are next to each other, the area "will be transformed quite a bit." One improvement will be reorganizing the traffic flow and adding 160 more parking spaces near the natatorium.

A two-story addition is planned for East Woods Elementary School, Peterson said. This will add 14 classroom spaces total, seven on the first floor and seven on the second.

Several other improvements throughout East Woods also will take place, Peterson said.

"All the interior doors will be replaced," Peterson said. "We will put in a new fire suppression system. The lockers will be replaced. There will be new cabinetry and new furniture throughout."

The school also will see restroom upgrades, with new plumbing fixtures, partitions and finishes; partial lighting replacement; a partial roofing replacement; technology upgrades and more, Peterson said.

The estimated costs for the addition and renovations is estimated at about $20.2 million.

East Woods currently is used for the district's fourth and fifth grade students. Once renovations and the addition is complete, the district's third graders also will go to East Woods.

Renovations for McDowell, which currently houses the districts third graders but will become the new pre-kindergarten and kindergarten building, will cost about $8.2 million, Peterson said. Improvements will include three new restrooms in the left wing, which will be the preschool wing.

"One nice thing about McDowell is we have a lot of flexibility," Peterson said.

Other renovations include new cabinetry, partial lighting replacement, window and exterior door replacement, a partial roof replacement, a new fire suppression system, technology upgrades, and more.

Plans still need to be submitted to the city, Peterson added. He said he hoped to go before the planning commission in January.

While East Woods was built in 1962, and McDowell was built  in 1966.

"The idea behind these renovations is to get another 25, 30 years out of East Woods and McDowell," said Superintendent Phil Herman. "There will be work that will be needed, the roofs will need done. After that time, the district may need to look at replacing."

Herman added that the costs for these two buildings were still estimates and "not set in stone."

"These numbers can fluctuate," Herman said. "There are still variables that can change the costs."

Evamere Elementary School, which currently houses the district's kindergarten and first-grade students, will eventually be decommissioned as a school building, downsized and renovated to create centralized administrative offices for the district and space for HCER. The approximate cost of the conversion is $2.4 million, Schurman said. However, he admitted this is a rough estimate.

"Evemere is the most foggy of all the numbers," Schurman said.

Energy savings possible

Treasurer Butto stated that the district may be able to save money through an Energy Savings Program, by separately financing project lighting through an energy savings program such as HB 264, which provides loans to public entities at a low interest rate to help pay for energy efficient improvements.

"We are trying to come up with some creative ways to stretch the dollars we have," Butto said.

Butto said if the district explores a district-wide LED lighting program the utility Savings could save the Master Facility Project approximately $327,000 and offset the cost of providing new LED lighting for all district buildings.

"It's probably the least expensive way to fund the upgrades," Butto said.

Marlow said there were no LED lights at either the high school or Ellsworth Hill.

"I think there are some opportunities for some cost savings," Marlow said.

Herman said the district could see savings from the high school "since it's such a large building."

Board member James Field said that LED lights last longer and are more energy efficient.

The school board ultimately unanimously agreed to look at the possibility of looking into an HB264 loan for LED lighting through the district's buildings.

Butto said that the district also had looked at the potential for savings through replacing more doors and windows district wide, "but the payoff was not going to be enough."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC