Asbestos abatement to start May 1 in Perry Middle School

District hopes to finish $10 million renovation by start of fall classes

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Asbestos abatement is scheduled to begin May 1 in the first phase of the $10 million Perry Middle School renovation project.

The old Perry High School building, which has served since 2000 as the Perry Middle School, was home to many triumphs and tragedies in the 1970s.

The $10 million contract for the Perry Middle School renovation project did not attract any bids from general contractors in the February letting, so a second round of bids have been solicited by March 22, the Perry School Board learned Monday.

School Board President Kyle Baxter said the tightness of the construction timeline might have caused the contractors to hesitate. A month-long effort at asbestos abatement will precede the extensive renovations.

“I know there’s some GCs who are interested and asking questions,” Baxter said. “We lost a month of instruction, so part of what we had to do was extend into the fall, so we may be creative in what we have to do over there. Hopefully, we can still get started here in spring break with asbestos and get that rolling.”

PCSD Superintendent Clark Wicks told the school board in February that the Iowa Department of Education denied Perry’s request to move all the middle school classes online in May in order to get a jump on the asbestos-abatement work.

“The reason that we need that month, that four weeks, is that they are saying that abatement is supposed to take four weeks, which would push the project well into September,” Wicks said last month. “I think it’s better to put that delay or whatever you want to call it, that virtual piece, in May and start the school year clean. So that still is our goal.”

Perry Middle School Principal Shaun Kruger reported Monday that he and PHS Principal Dan Marburger put their heads together and figured out how to squeeze the middle school students into the high school building for the month of May.

The plan calls for the entire sixth grade class to occupy the new PHS multipurpose room, Kruger said, with the seventh and eighth graders “dispersed throughout the building in various empty classrooms,” including the auditorium, middle school cafeteria and high school library.

“April 23 will be the last day in the middle school,” he said. “Movers will come in the following Monday and Tuesday as well as other vendors to remove projectors, hot spots, and other items, so that on May 1 the entire building’s ready to go for the asbestos abatement.”

School Board Vice President Linda Andorf said putting all the sixth graders in one big room might produce some interesting synergy.

“I did hear about the configuration of the sixth grade, and I think that sounds really exciting,” Andorf said. “It could be kind of hectic, but it sounds exciting.”

Kruger thanked Marburger for accommodating the middle school students, and he praised the middle school faculty, particularly the sixth grade teachers, for their flexibility during the May move.

“I’m proud of them,” he said. “They’ve embraced it. They’ve got some multidisciplinary units with whole group and some other neat ideas planned and are taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Among the many planned renovations of the Perry Middle School are:

  • Expanded and relocated classrooms
  • Updated furniture, student desks, chairs, cabinetry and fixtures
  • Relocated and updated main office and guidance offices
  • Relocated media center and teachers’ lounge
  • A new STEM lab and computer lab
  • New wiring and electrical
  • Updated projectors
  • Updated commons area and cafeteria
  • All new lighting throughout the building
  • All new ceilings throughout the building
  • Branding throughout the building

In a recent bilingual letter to parents, Kruger said the renovations are “expected to be completed by the beginning of next school year, in time for the return of our staff and students,” and “we will do everything we can to make sure Perry Middle School is ready to go this fall.”

The Perry Middle School was built in 1959 under the leadership of Perry School Board President Clarence Powell and Superintendent William Bolt at a cost of $420,000. It originally housed the Perry High School. The current Perry High School was built in 2000 under the leadership of School Board President Gary Huitt and Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski at a cost of $10 million, which included improvements to the elementary and middle schools.

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