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SHS construction changes school landscape

Kraus-Anderson senior construction manager, Patrick Gallagher, points out where the main hallway of the new Superior High School will go, right between the current art rooms on the left and the Performing Arts Center on the right as he stands in what used to be the circle at SHS during a tour last week. Jed Carlson /

Teachers returning to Superior High School this week are in for a shock. The building is not the way they left it.

Asbestos tiles have been removed from floors, leaving waxed concrete in their wake.

Former science labs boasted sand floors last week dotted with new pipes. By the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the area will be the school's new kitchen.

A corner of the cafeteria was being outfitted as temporary storage space for musical instruments last week. The nearby staff lounge was being transformed into joint office space for music teachers.

Murals outside the library media center were exposed, the hallway they once decorated half gone.

As construction crews weave new construction together with old, the scene at the school will continue to shift.

Kraus-Anderson senior project manager Patrick Gallagher said they are feeling the time crunch with the countdown to the first day of school as asbestos abatement stretches longer than initially expected. They aren't behind, he said, but they are pressed to make the most of these summer days.

Their highest priority is making sure the school is safe and ready for students.

Not all of it will be pretty.

Locker rooms have been one of the big components of the project, which will tie new construction together with renovated sections.

The locker rooms were destroyed and rebuilt, with new mechanicals in the fresh. Fireproofing was being sprayed on the ceilings last week. While two locker bays will be available for use on day one, they won't be fully finished. Neither will the coaches' offices nearby.

"It will be occupiable and safe, not done," Gallagher said. "It will not be spit and polished and ready to hand over."

Last week, a trail of pink and white posters directed members of the girls' swim team past scaffolding, machines and work areas to the pool, one part of the old building that will remain.

Workers were preparing for concrete pads to be poured in the new three-story addition last week; others were laying concrete blocks and mortar in the new arts area.

Gallagher said the crews are tackling seven projects in one as they try to build a new building around sections of the old one. They include asbestos abatement, the wrap-around performing arts center addition, locker rooms, the new administrative triangle, the new three-story addition and installing all new mechanicals and roofs.

Last on the list will be finishing the parking lots.

"In the end there will be the same number of parking spots as before," Gallagher said. "For this year, there will be less."

It will be, he said, "tight."

A new lot was poured last week near the tennis courts. It juts out farther from the school to make way for a utility yard, green space and safer sidewalks. The lot beside the technical education classrooms has been striped for bus drop-off.

In the mechanical department, the school's heating system is being changed from steam to more efficient hot water condensing boilers.

Current plans include restoring access to the performing arts center area and band room by early 2018, Gallagher said.

At this time, all alternates for the project have been taken off the table, he said. That means that current plans call for a two-station gymnasium.

Security on site

Since construction began at the high school, two break-ins have been reported.

One man, Christopher Neil Bjerkness, 29, was arrested May 24. He allegedly entered the high school and popped more than a dozen exercise balls with a car key. He faces charges of burglary, criminal damage to property and resisting or obstructing an officer. Bjerkness' next court appearance is set for Aug. 31.

Superior police reports also indicated an unknown male trespassed in the construction area at Superior High School the morning of July 16. Cameras inside the building tracked him walking around the link area of the school and into the cafeteria.

Gallagher said construction crews are on the site from early in the morning until late at night, making the most of their time before students return to class. They've even hired someone to work evening hours and make sure the building is secure.

Measures have been put in place to help students to identify legitimate construction workers, Gallagher said, and security cameras can be found all over the school.