With repairs nearly complete, the gym at South Point Elementary was back in use Friday afternoon.
The gym has not been used since the start of the school year due to structural integrity concerns with horizontal cracks that had worsened over the summer.
All gym activities, including daily PE classes, have been displaced as a result.
Washington School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon said contractors finished up some minor work Friday morning and district architects did an inspection the same day.
“Typically, during these inspections there are items that need to be completed, adjusted or corrected by the contractor before the school district will release a final payment,” he explained. “There were a few items found, but very minor and nothing that prevented us from using the gym. So Friday, the afternoon PE classes got to use the gym.”
An all-school assembly also was held in the gym Friday.
“The gym is the only place all of the students and staff can get together for announcements and recognitions, so they did that at the end of the day,” he said. “The students were obviously very excited.”
Mahon said Adam Meyer, PE teacher, was recognized during the assembly for being so flexible, understanding and patient in not having his classroom for so long.
“The only things left on the project are the minor items found in the inspection, which is some patching and repainting,” Mahon said. “There also is a protective fence around the outside of the gym that is scheduled to be removed March 20.”
Lawlor Corporation, St. Louis, was awarded a $130,700 contract for the work, which is a short-term fix for the gym so it can be used until a new school is built.
The repairs involved reinforcing the gym walls with vertical and horizontal steel tubes. The exterior also was tuck-pointed and a clear waterproof sealer placed over the brick to prevent further moisture infiltration.
South Point Principal Aimee Harty said the work did not cause any disruptions at the school and students were excited to see progress being made.
Harty also said the workers had been diligent of the school’s safety requests and plans to ensure it was business as usual during the day.
Funding for the gym repairs is coming from the district’s reserve balances dedicated for emergency purposes.
The district is seeking a $26 million zero tax-rate increase bond issue in the April 2 election to build a new elementary school in the South Point attendance area.
Prop S also would fund safety upgrades, including construction of secure vestibule entryways at all schools, visitor management systems and ADA accessibility improvements.
If approved, the new school would open in August 2021.
School officials have wanted to retire the South Point building, which is located in a 100-year flood plain, for many years. The building is at capacity and currently utilizes three trailer-style classrooms on its campus.
The elementary school serves over 400 students and has approximately 70 staff members.
There are cracks in other parts of the building, but engineers have said those areas are not of immediate concern.
Engineers and consultants said soil erosion issues have caused the cracks in the interior walls and shifts in the foundation.
A cracked boiler also flooded the basement of the building in January. Another boiler had to be repaired more recently.
School officials said all of these issues are indicative of an aging building that needs to be retired.
The building also lacks central air because the HVAC renovation for the entire building was too extensive and costly.
Of the seven elementary schools in the district, South Point is the second largest. Washington West Elementary is the largest.