COVENTRY TWP. School may be out for now, but this summer may go down as one of the busiest for Coventry Schools.
Coventry Schools Director of Facilities Jon Hibian, who has been with the district for 34 years, said every building will be touched in some way this summer. At the conclusion of the school year, Turkeyfoot Elementary School closed for good as elementary students will be moving to the former high school on Manchester Road. The high school students will be moving into the new Coventry High School on Portage Lakes Drive.
Hibian said this will be the third move he has been a part of. The other moves occurred when schools closed in 2011 and 2013. In 2013, Hibian said he used 25 people for the move, this year he said he is being as frugal as possible considering the financial state and only using 12 people.
This move is a little more unique because some items are being moved out of the old high school, while other items are staying for the elementary school.
One easy part of the move is the new high school.
"The new high school comes with everything a student needs other than the teacher’s supplies," Hibian said.
Hibian calls the move like a game of chess. The first items to be moved are 700 high school desks from the old high school to the middle school. The classroom modulars at Turkeyfoot Elementary are being moved to the middle school to help accommodate some larger classes there.
Once the old high school, soon to be Coventry Elementary School, is cleaned and ready, items from Turkeyfoot Elementary will be moved. Hibian said the district is renting a truck with a lift gate and everything will be transferred at one time. He said the teachers already have everything boxed up and ready to go.
"I am pretty confident, we have done this a couple times," Hibian said.
The district moved items when Cottage Grove School, Lakeview School and Erwine School closed.
"I have all the confidence in the world Mr. Hibian is going to pull this off," Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said.
Once the move is complete, Chaboudy added that all of the district's buildings would be within a half-mile of each other.
The amount of problems at Turkeyfoot Elementary School were starting to add up. Hibian said the roof was bare bones, the steam boiler had to be rebuilt last summer and many of the pipes leaked. He said the building has well water, which has eaten the pipes up. Many of the pipes are under the classroom floors, which meant taking up concrete when there was a problem. He said at times the floor would get hot or cold to the touch.
"When you talk about a headache, that is about as big of one as you can get," Hibian said.
Hibian also said last school year the well went out a couple weeks into the school year and getting it re-dug turned into a three month process because of EPA requirements. The building had a tanker truck feeding it water, which meant the water pressure wasn’t great until the new well was installed.
The building also has a septic system designed in 1946 and the EPA asked the district to have it pumped once per day. While the district didn’t pump the system daily, it was being pumped every other week for the last two school years. Hibian also said the building had to have weekly water tests, and the parking lot was in constant need of repair due to potholes.
"The last year before Cottage Grove and Erwine closed, they turned into money pits,’ Hibian said. "Turkeyfoot has been that way, too."
The land where the Cottage Grove School sat is still on the market and Hibian hopes to have better luck with the Turkeyfoot property. He said there has been some interest and the schools have been talking to the mayor of New Franklin about the property.
"It is located on state Route 619 and it is close to the lakes," Hibian said.
The district has gone from operating six buildings down to three. All three of the buildings are on city water and sewer which is something Hibian is looking forward to.
This summer, the district plans to make improvements to the elementary building as it is being coverted from a high school. Some renovations to classrooms already took place several years back, but this year the focus will be on the science rooms, including things like getting the gas connection to the tables removed.
"It will take a little bit of adjustment, but I think the students will be pleased with it," Hibian said.
The building will house grades pre-k through four starting this fall, which is anticipated to be more than 700 students.
"That will be a building we will have to continue to work on," Hibian said.
In the future, Hibian would like to see some additional improvements for safety along with work to the roof and hallways, which are all carpeted. These are just ideas for now, as the focus is to prepare the building for elementary students. The building will allow for a designated computer lab and more room for teachers to take their students.
"We are hoping everyone will be patient and I think everyone will be happy with the outcome when it is all said and done," Hibian said.