Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Work begins on $21 million Dunwoody High School renovation project - Dunwoody Neighbor

By Gloria Love

Workers began the planned three-stage renovation of Dunwoody High School after classes ended May 21 and are striving to finish phase one by early August.

According to Page Olson, parent representative for the Dunwoody High School design team, $21 million has been allocated to the school from the most recent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST III.

“We’re getting a new HVAC [heating and air-conditioning system]. It’s monumental for us. There will also be additional classroom space and a 500-seat auditorium,” said Ms. Olson.

The heating and air conditioning system is included in the first phase for the construction firm, Doster Construction Co.

Sonny Jester, outgoing school council chair, said this is one of the most anticipated improvements to the 38-year-old building.

“During the salutatorian’s speech at graduation, he said one of the things he learned at Dunwoody High was to dress in layers,” he said, in reference to temperatures inside the building in the cold season.

Other updates are being made in such areas as the communications lab and special education facilities at the school, which opened in 1972. Bathrooms will be renovated and landscaping work and painting will be done, Ms. Olson said.

“We’re getting ourselves up to par,” she said.

There was initially concern the construction project would infringe on local noise ordinances.

“The Dunwoody ordinance [7 a.m.] is later than construction workers like to start,” said Jester.

However, “[The workers] agreed to do low noise things at problematic times,” he added.

Ms. Olson added, “We’re extremely sensitive to [the noise ordinance], and the community is aware of the scope of what has to be done.”

Planning for the project began before the end of SPLOST II in 2007.

“Several projects crossed over from SPLOST II, and we made it into the top 15 priorities for SPLOST III. To date, they’ve held very true to the allocation. It’s been an extremely positive experience,” Ms. Olson said.

After Dunwoody High School was allotted a portion of the $645 million the 1 percent sales tax is expected to accrue over a five-year period, a design team was assembled of which Ms. Olson is a part.

“We met and brainstormed what we could have based on the budget. There was a lot of input from faculty. Our job is to make sure we’re communicating with our neighbors. We’re watching the details,” she said.

The next phase of the construction work, the additional classrooms, is slated to begin with the new school year.

“As big a mess as this [the construction] is, it’s exciting to see it happening,” said Jester.

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