The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

The Student News Site of Bellevue West Senior High School

The Thunderbeat

Heating and cooling reconstruction

Photos by Website News Editor and West Wind Commentary Editor Hailey Stolze


Starting on November 5, Bellevue West High School will be undergoing their largest construction project since the original construction of the school. The heating and cooling system needs to be replaced — completely replaced.

“It is so out-of-date [the heating and cooling] staff is having a hard time finding parts to fix the system when it breaks down,” Rohlfs said.

The heating and cooling units on the roof of the school were made to last for 20 years. the school is approaching year 35 on the current units.

“The total cost of this project is estimated at $2.6 million,” Bellevue Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Jeff Rippe said.

This money is coming from the district building and sites fund.

The timeframe for this project is unknown. Construction will begin on Nov. 5 and is expected to end sometime in the summer. The estimated time until completion is about nine months.

“Because of the size of the project, it was going to have to run into school sometime. It was either this year or beginning of next year,” Principal Kevin Rohlfs said.

The engineers assigned to this project thought it would make sense to start now, rather than wait and begin with 400 new freshmen in the building.

During the project, they will also have to shut off the current heating and cooling system for a period of time while coming to the end of project. This works better when the timeline for the project is nearing its end in the summer of 2013 rather than the winter of the 2013-2014 school year.

“This should also help with the issues that we have now of one room being too hot and the next being too cold,” Rohlfs said.

Room reassignments

Each room will have the ability to control the temperature of their room to make it comfortable for the students and the teachers.

English teacher Amy Smith has taught at Bellevue West for 12 years and is one of the first teachers to move classrooms.

“I had to pack up a cart with everything I think I will need for the next three weeks,” Smith said.

During this project, teachers will be out of their classrooms for weeks at a time. They will use classrooms around the school that are not being used during those periods.

The teachers will have to mold their curriculum around the construction.

“We are doing Macbeth, and I can’t haul around the things I would normally use to teach it,” Smith said.

When one room is finished with installing the new system it will be using the current system until all the rooms have been completed at the end of the summer.

“It’s going to be a little chaotic over the course of the year,” Rohlfs said. “[Students] will forget where there class got moved to, and will be late to where their class is.”

The schedule is set up to work on the rooms one area at a time, starting with English. This way students will not have more than one class affected at a time.

Much thought that has gone into planning the installation. Two years ago, a group of engineers that the school hired realized that West needed a new system. At that time, they had redone the computer labs.

During this nine month period Rohlfs will be meeting with the teachers a week in advance to remind them that their class will be moved, and where it will be moved to. He will also meet with the individual teachers to help them find room placements to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Some possible problems have been raised and the school staff has already thought out some possible solutions.

If a teacher is next to a classroom that is being worked on and the noise is too loud, teachers will be given a list of open classrooms for each period that they may use. The teachers may use available rooms, but the distance to get there may not be worth it.

“You might be going to one class in the English department, then to Woods in far southeast corner of the building,” Rohlfs said. “It tends to become a lot of mileage for teachers to go each day with their stuff.”

Student parking

Parking is also another problem that the staff has to overcome in order to get this project completed.

The upper back parking lot where most of the staff parks is where the construction workers will put all of their supplies. This includes their job trailers, materials used for construction and heating and cooling ducts.

All teachers now park the west parking lot, which filled up quickly. The 50-60 students that were parking there had to move to the student parking lot. This final move might overfill the front parking lot, which causes another issue.

What most students are unaware of is that West has a “sophomore” parking lot located along the back way to the school. No students currently park back there.

“I would hate to force someone to park down there because it is so far removed,”  Rohlfs said.

That is an option for students brave enough to make the long journey from their cars to the school during the winter months, but is not mandatory.

During the winter months, the lot will be cleaned and the sidewalks will be cleared to ensure safety of the students.

Another unforeseen problem that the school has discovered was summer school.

“Summer school may need to be held at East,” Rohlfs said.

During the summer, the project will be wrapping up and the there will be no air conditioning. The cafeteria will also undergo its installment of the new system this summer, leaving no space for comfortable space for students.

James Teutschmann
West Wind Editor-in-Chief

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