O&G begins $37 Million Putnam High School renovation; Temporary Classrooms Keep Students and Teachers Comfortable

Photo courtesy of Aaron Flaum of the Norwich Bulletin
February 12, 2015

Putnam High School students and teachers love their new classrooms and they aren’t even the finished product.

The $36.6 million renovation that will change nearly everything about the school other than its outside walls is underway in earnest. What was once the auditorium is now “swing space” and portables adjacent to the building house six classrooms.

“The space is really nice,” teacher Brian Germaine said. “The students feel comfortable here and that’s really what’s important.”

The project is in phase two and is expected to be completed in January or February 2017. Most of the moves to new locations were made during the winter break, Vetrovec said. All technology had to be moved and some classrooms were without their computers for about three days, Vetrovec said.

Germaine is one of six teachers whose classes have been moved to space that was once the school auditorium. The space is temporary, Assistant Principal Jackie Vetrovec, and is not in its final configuration and does not have its final fixtures and trim. The space eventually will become the district’s central offices and the Medical Pathways program the district plans to launch with two classes in the fall.

For now, the space will house the classes for one year and then a second set of classes for a second year. It will also house the school’s main office staff starting in the fall until the start of 2016.

A year from now, Germaine and his co-workers will move into the fully renovated space. Germaine said he’s not looking forward to packing up his classroom again, but he thinks the new spaces will be a great addition to the high schools, especially since students and teachers have helped plan the renovations.

“I think it will do a lot for the school culture,” Germaine said. “To have something we’re all really invested in and have ownership of will be really important for us.”

The six portable classrooms are far larger than most classroom space. And students say they have been warm even on the coldest days of the winter.

Junior Dylan Machado said the classrooms are roomy. He also enjoys the short walk, along a covered walkway to the portables and the chance to get some fresh air.

Machado said the renovations have been easy for students.

“It really hasn't been a big deal and the new spaces are really nice,” Machado said.

But he will graduate before the project is completed.

“At least some of the spaces will done next year,” he said.

Math Teacher Adam Mielniczuk said the portables are comfortable and the space is large enough that teachers can set the rooms up to suit their teaching styles. 

The completed renovation will include new windows, science lab renovations, a black box theater, community room, new media center, an expanded gym and upgrades to the building’s electrical, heating and structural systems.

Gym construction will begin in March, said Vetrovec, who will become the school’s principal in July. The gym is an addition to the building and is the only new construction in the project.

The largest phase of the project will begin over the summer when the entire front of the high school will be renovated, Vetrovec said. The school will be completely shut down this summer. All programs, the central office staff and summer school will move to the middle school.

Those renovations will not be done by the fall, but all abatement will be completed, Vetrovec said.

“I don’t want to say it’s the most difficult part of the renovations, but it is the single largest part of the project and entails the most,” Vetrovec said. “So far there have been no surprises and everything has gone pretty much as we planned. The most important thing is to keep any of the impacts away from instruction.”

Read the original story on the Norwich Bulletin website: Putnam High using portable classrooms as school renovations continue