Dan Tate and Erica Kludt-Painter stand in front of the Rae C. Stedman Elementary School where construction is ongoing. Photo/Angela Denning

Dan Tate and Erica Kludt-Painter stand in front of the Rae C. Stedman Elementary School where construction is ongoing. Photo/Angela Denning

Construction has begun on the Rae C. Stedman Elementary school in Petersburg. The 40-year-old building is getting some new siding, windows, and insulation through a $2.3 million dollar project. The Alaska Commercial Contractors is doing the work. To find out how it’s going, Angela Denning checked in with the Principal Erica Kludt-Painter and Petersburg School District Maintenance Director, Dan Tate.
Angela: “Thank you for meeting me here today. We are outside of the elementary school and clearly there’s construction going on. Guys are working, it looks like, on the siding?”
Erica: “Yes, they have officially started. Well, actually they officially started a few weeks ago really doing some prep work but they have really officially started actually removing the old siding. And they’re moving around the building as you can see.”
Dan: “I think pretty quickly you’ll see walls coming down.”
Angela: “Right in front of us here there’s stacks and piles of materials.”
Dan: “Well, underneath our covered playground we have what appears to be all the windows already stacked up ready to go and it looks like sheet rock and sheathing material.”
Angela: “Okay, and Erica, you were saying to me earlier that it’s not only on the outside here but there’s actually work already taking place on the inside of the school.”
Erica: “Yes, some of the prep work that had to happen early on so that they could have access to all these outside walls, we had to do some moving inside to about half the building as far as even just clearing things away from the walls, and even relocated a classroom, we closed down the library, we moved all the office staff down to the other end of the building to a different room so they could have access to this whole end by the library and down the side of the south side of the building so that they could do some of this work in the spring with the intention being that things would be substantially completed by August, so that we can get school going again without too much chaos.”
Angela: “So, in terms of chaos and how things are going for teachers and students, is everybody used to what’s happening now?”
Erica: “You know, it’s gone really well. We’ve tried to do a lot of phases with it over the last couple of months and our own maintenance crew with Dan and Ed and everybody else that’s on our crew here has been great, just kind of keeping everybody in the loop. We’ve tried to give parents a lot of information as it’s come up. We’ve tried to ease the kids into as far as preparing them for the library and preparing them for where the office is going to be and doors being closed and changing routines for getting back and forth, as you saw this morning, walking across to music class and going to swim and gym. Even the playground, we have relocated all the kids to the other end, you know the other playground on the other end. There is another playground so we’re doing more garden work now and playing on the other playground and the kids have really adjusted well and the teachers have done an excellent job of just helping them know what the routines are and doing it.”
Angela: “And it’s pretty obvious that this playground is off limits. There’s bright, orange, plastic fencing that’s kind of around the perimeter here.”
Dan: “That’s correct. And we’ve been very pleased that the people of Petersburg, the kids, respecting this place right now for the construction workers and that’s really what we need to have happen.”
Angela: “Now, in terms of the details of the timeline and that kind of thing, do you see this being completed by the school year? I mean, do you think things are on schedule?”
Dan: “I believe everything’s on schedule. And everything will be ready to go inside the school building at the end of the summer. We might see some exterior work being done on the outside in September or something like that but for the most part we’re expecting to be completely done.”
Angela: “Alright, well thank you so much for that update. Anything else you wanted to let folks know?”
Erica: “Just that, I would second what Dan said, that really that people have been respectful of this whole process and that parents have been real supportive and that we actually applied to have school, I don’t know if that was out there at some point, but that we’ve actually applied to have school released a week early for the elementary school so that we can really get everything out of there right before the summer for the construction crew. And again, people have been, parents get it, anybody who’s been in and out of the building, you know, they see what’s going on up here and they’ve been very supportive. We haven’t heard anything about that so we always appreciate that.”