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No pandemic problems, but patience helping with Stevensville Schools upgrade

Stevensville School Construction
Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 11:07:21-05

STEVENSVILLE — There have been a few surprises from old construction but no problems from the pandemic as the Stevensville School District motors past an important milestone in their $22 million upgrade project.

It's been quite the case of timing. Even as Stevensville School leaders finalized the big construction project approved by voters in 2019, the coronavirus was getting hold overseas. But the resulting problems, especially with building supplies, haven't slowed the project one iota.

“Quality Construction has done a great job as have their subcontractors. And they knew what they were going to need for the job and got ahead of the orders really," said Stevensville School Superintendent Bob Moore. "We've seen very few delays in the process and in the order process. You know, anytime there's been a problem even with retrofits, we've been able to get those items in a timely manner.”

Moore says there have been a few surprises, as crews dug into a campus that's served the community for more than a century.

“There are a few places where we dug holes that we got behind on, where we had to reroute some sewer lines and fiber optic lines and things like that. And we had some unsuitable soils," Moor explained. "But those areas are also starting to come out of the ground very quickly at this point.”

Out of the ground and into the air. Crews have finished erecting the steel for the elementary school addition, and the new Agriculture and Industrial Trades and Technology building east of the high school.

Some renovated classrooms are already being used. Additionally, the high school's new lighting, heating and cooling systems are online, including the installation of ionizers, paid for with federal COVID money, but will help tremendously during Bitterroot fire seasons.

"We were able to do a lot of very serious upgrades to our systems just for general student health and air quality inside the building," Moore said.

The mild weather so far this winter is also been a big help and right now it looks like they'll be able to stay on track to have the wrap-up work done next fall. The progress is also thanks in large part to everyone's cooperation around this unsettled year.

“The students have been very understanding. The staff has done an admirable job adapting to some pretty difficult circumstances throughout the COVID pandemic," Moore said. "Throughout construction. Throughout distance learning. We've really been able to turn very quickly when we needed to, yeah.”

Plans still call for Stevensville students to dismiss early this year, in May, so crews will have extra time this summer to finish construction.