With renovation of
the auditorium-gymnasium wing all but finished, four months
ahead of schedule, and having come in under budget, it has
become possible to redo the front office and, in the process,
give an added boost to building security. There also will be an
improvement in the appearance of the entranceway.
That work is slated
to be done during the coming summer.
"Call it an added
bonus to what we thought we'd be able to do, but it's something
that has real value
and benefits," said
John Read, manager of the Brandywine School District's building
rehabilitation and modernization program.
The school office,
he explained, will not only be redesigned but also 'rotated' to
that everyone entering through the front door of the building
will have to pass through the office. District policy already
requires that, once the children are admitted in the morning,
all school doors are locked and front-door access is controlled.
cameras would have satisfied security concerns, the new
arrangement will be a further enhancement," Read said.
Providing it, he
said, was part of the original plan and included as an optional
bid, but not fully committed to until progress on the rest of
the job determined there would be sufficient money to undertake
"It was the only
thing we could peel off" of the original plan in case it became
necessary to divert money, he said. "It's not like you could
decide to install just half of a sprinkler system or do
something like that."
The Claymont portion
of the district building program is budgeted at slightly over $6
John Read demonstrates
that the new auditorium doors open wide enough to
accommodate wheelchairs. Providing access for handicapped
persons has been a major element in the renovation program.
previously reported, the entranceway improvement involves
installation of a new canopy.
Signature piece of
the renovation as far as graduates of the former Claymont High
School and long-time residents to the community are concerned is
the restoration and reopening of the 25-yards-long swimming
pool. It was shut down in the early 1980s when the filter and
air-handling systems failed. During most of the intervening
years it was used to store unused furniture and other equipment.
Returning it to life
has involved things as detailed replacing damaged tiles with new
ones that are a close-to-exact match to the ones that have been
there since 1970 to providing access for persons with physical
likewise has been restored although, unlike the pool, it has
remained in continuous use. A stage area there, which also had
been used for storage for several years has been reopened. Also
refurbished was the 900-seat auditorium.
Located at the south
end of the building, the auditorium-gymnasium wing has been
redesigned to serve, as the occasion requires, as an integral
part of the school or a separate area unto itself. During an
evening event, for instance, it will be served by its own
entrance and completely sealed off by locked doors from the rest
of the building.
The auditorium, gym
and pool, Read said, will be available for community use under
the terms of the district's facilities-use policy. However, he
pointed out, the renovation program is primarily intended to
enable them to serve the building's educational mission. That
refers in particular to its present role serving the
upper-elementary level classes, grade four through six.
The wing was
actually built, in 1959, as a separate facility replacing
counterpart areas of the original Claymont High School next
door. The rest of the building was added 10 years later as a
replacement high school. As a result, the schools interior
resembles a split-level house, Read said.
Another reminder of
the time when it was new is the fact that it originally was
designed as an all-electric building. The renovation has
included installation of a boiler to provide more efficient gas
That is illustrative
of an often-overlooked aspect of the overall renovation program,
Read said. "Sixty to 70 per cent of the work -- and the money --
goes into things the public never sees. No one ever comes in and
tells you, 'I like what you've done with your boiler room'."
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