Commonwealth Journal

August 1, 2013

First phase of renovations complete at Hopkins Elementary

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

As another school year quickly approaches, so does the expected completion date for major renovations to a local elementary school. 
Boyd Randolph, superintendent of Somerset Independent Schools, said on Monday that Phase I of a renovation project to Hopkins Elementary School, located in downtown Somerset and serving around 650 students, is nearing completion.
“It’s looking good,” said Randolph. “A lot of work has been done and there’s still work to be done.”
Randolph said most of the major renovation work to the school, which has been in use since the mid-1950s, should be wrapping up by the first day back for students, scheduled for Aug. 7. 
“The contractors and subcontractors have all been very (good) ... they communicate openly and freely with us,” said Randolph. “My one position was, if they needed to change plans, our families needed to know that well in advance.”
Randolph has stayed up-to-date on the project thanks to frequent planning sessions, one of which was held on Monday morning. 
The renovation work slated to wrap up soon includes improvements to floors, walls, ceilings, upgrades to lighting, renovations to the schools bathrooms — including some plumbing improvements — and more.
The school district’s facilities plan, located on the Kentucky Department of Education website, lists those improvements, along with upgrades to the HVAC and electrical systems and the school’s technology, and improvements to the school’s roof. 
“There’s nothing left in the scope of work that should keep us from opening the school,” said Randolph, who noted the school’s maintenance staff spent the past weekend polishing the school’s floors for the new school year. 
Randolph said the school’s teachers were encouraged “just this week” to access their classrooms and ready those rooms for students. He said an open house — a time where parents and guardians can interact with teachers in preparation for the upcoming school year — has not yet been officially scheduled. 
“That was simply to allow more development and completion, and to move construction matter out of the way,” said Randolph.
He’s hopeful an open house can be scheduled soon, and if not, he said time will be put aside at the beginning of the school year for the open house.
“We will get word to everybody as soon as we possibly can,” said Randolph.
Once students return to school, Randolph said small improvements and upgrades may still be going on “here and there,” but he said those things will not negatively impact the school’s operation.
And once Phase I wraps, Randolph said Phase II will get underway. Randolph said he’s hopeful that phase, which includes the demolition of the school’s 1971 wing, will be completed by the 2014-2015 school year. 
According to the district facilities plan on KDE’s website, the new construction included in Phase II includes the construction of four standard classrooms, one music room, one art room, one science room, and two resource rooms. 
Randolph said the room labeled for science will also serve as a multi-purpose room.
“We wanted to go into it with enough flexibility that, five years in the future ... the current design didn’t restrict the facility,” said Randolph. “Or even 10 years in the future.”
The Hopkins project has been in the works since the spring of 2011, when the facilities plan was initially developed by the Somerset Schools District Facilities Planning Committee — a group made up of teachers, administrators and parents in the district — and was approved by KDE. 
The current, amended plan was submitted and approved by KDE in June of this year. According to the plan, the cost of the renovations total $6,052,085. The new construction included in Phase II of the plan is estimated to be around $1,855,136. 
The school district has qualified for federal, no-interest bonds to help fund parts of the project.