UPDATE: Students Return to East Bank Middle School with Ongoing Construction

By: Olivia Fecteau; Cathleen Moxley Email
By: Olivia Fecteau; Cathleen Moxley Email
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UPDATE 8/9/13 @ 3:30 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- With school set to begin Friday morning, students and parents walked into East Bank Middle School for an open house Thursday night and saw a school with some renovations still incomplete.

The school, which has been a work in progress as workers replaced the heating and cooling system in the building, was scheduled to have all renovations and construction done by the time students came back for classes. But as of the first day, not everything was in order.

"Ninety percent of our construction is complete," Mike Wilkinson, principal of East Bank Middle School, said. "If you go around the building, you'll see some areas do not have flooring."

Wilkinson added that the sixth-grade wing, which does not have finished floors and is missing some ceiling tiles, also does not have a working bathroom. The auditorium is empty, with seats scheduled to arrive in September, and the front office and front entrance, which will become a double-door security entrance, is still under construction. In addition, the library and its computer lab are not finished.

"Once school starts [Friday], everything will be on evening or night shift," Wilkinson said. "We might have some individuals working on the building, but there's no classrooms here except for the front office."

The first day of middle school for sixth-grade students is nerve-wracking enough for students like Warren Clere, whose mother said he is worried about bullies as he begins a new year.

"He's a wreck," Nena Clere said, laughing.

Clere said the building, while not finished, looks much better than it did even earlier in the week.

"As long as everything's out of the way, that the kids are not going to get hurt and stuff, is my first priority," Clere said. "Just making sure that he's safe and nothing can tumble and fall, which I don't think the fire marshal would allow."

Wilkinson said he had no concerns about student safety with the construction still going on.

"The school looks 100 percent better now than it did at the end of last school year," Wilkinson said. "Sixth-graders, they will be followed by teachers everywhere they go, so there's no concerns."

April Matheney, another parent of a sixth-grade student, said parents were told construction would be all finished by the time their children returned to school.

"I don't know how they're going to work with all the kids. They're supposed to have had it done before the school year started, so I don't know what kept them from doing that," Matheney said. "I mean, a work in progress, I guess. Good luck with all the little kids running around."

Matheney added that the school looked much better than it did on "Step-Up Day" in the spring when students visited, and even better than it did on Tuesday when they stopped by the school.

"It looks night and day different than what it was whenever we were here Tuesday. It's a lot better," Chrisetta Vealey, the mother of a sixth-grader and a seventh-grader, said.

Vealey said she was worried about the dust from the construction because one of her children has asthma and other children have allergies or asthma worsened by dust.

"They did as much as they could in the time that they had, but I mean, with school starting earlier this year, they didn't have the entire summer to do everything that they were wanting to do," Vealey said.

Wilkinson said the construction should all be completed by the end of September.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

ORIGINAL STORY 4/9/13 @ 4:55 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A big construction project at a middle school in the Kanawha Valley has led to health and safety concerns for those who are inside the school nearly every day.

This all has to do with the replacement of a heating and cooling system at East Bank Middle School.

A lot of the dirty work was done during spring break. When teachers came back Monday, they were welcomed by dust all over the place and signs warning about asbestos.

Kanawha County Schools’ facilities director Chuck Wilson says the asbestos warning was just a precaution.

Wilson says the construction crew requested another test for asbestos, and the results turned out negative.

Gina Johnson’s daughter teaches at the school. She says she doesn't like that her daughter is working in these conditions.

“She's really concerned about her health. She's pregnant and we're really worried about if the baby's gonna be OK through all this construction going on while she's working,” Johnson said.

Wilson says there is no safety or health threat to the staff or students, but they will have to deal with being surrounded by demolition a little longer.

He says they are about 90 percent done with that portion of the project.

It is expected to be completely finished by this fall.

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