School buildings ready for new year

Published 9:55 pm Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Ella Bronaugh


While teachers and students spend the summer relaxing, maintenance workers at Suffolk Public Schools were hard at work to make sure the next academic year will be comfortable and safe for the occupants of the buildings.

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Terry Napier, director of facilities and planning at Suffolk Public Schools, along with his team of maintenance workers, have been hard at work all summer long ensuring that the school buildings of Suffolk are in tip-top shape.

“All of the projects will impact comfort, safety or system integrity,” Napier said. “There’s a purpose behind all of the projects we do.”

The list of maintenance projects that have been completed or are in the process of being completed at the 18 Suffolk schools is several pages long. Some of the projects listed included HVAC repair or replacement at King’s Fork High School, Nansemond River High School, Lakeland High School and Northern Shores Elementary School; interior and exterior painting at John F. Kennedy Middle School; security mirror installation at Lakeland High School and Nansemond River High School on all stairways; and asbestos tile abatement and replacement at John Yeates Middle School.

These projects were completed alongside several projects that are conducted annually, which included fire lane repainting at eight of the 18 schools, elevator inspections at seven schools, backflow prevention device inspection and repair, if necessary, at all schools, storm water retention maintenance at eight schools, playground mulch replenishment at all of the elementary schools and grease trap pump-outs at all of the schools.

An ongoing, year-round project for Suffolk Public Schools is the two schools under construction: the reconstruction of Florence Bowser Elementary School and the new Col. Fred Cherry Middle School in Burbage Grant. These projects are set to be finished by the 2018-2019 school year.

Napier also spoke of a project he’d like to get under way soon.

“Mount Zion Elementary School closed about five or six years ago,” he said. “Right now it’s used as a storage house, but we’d like to tear it down and build an operations center there.”

Currently, Suffolk Public Schools departments are operating from different buildings in various locations around the city. Turning the former Mount Zion Elementary School into an operations center would provide a location for all of the departments to work together in close proximity.

“We’re going to have supporting departments working out of the location,” Napier said. Some of the departments include maintenance, food services, textbook storage and the print shop.

“We’d like to provide a location for all of these departments to work out of.”

Thanks to the maintenance workers at the Facilities and Planning department, students and faculty should be looking forward to a comfortably secure year at Suffolk Public Schools.