Warm weather has allowed construction crews to start work a month early on the Ballston Spa Central School District’s new elementary school.
General contractor Bast Hatfield of Halfmoon started doing preliminary site work about two weeks ago, clearing and leveling the ground for a new K-5 school that will replace Milton Terrace South at the Wood Road campus in Milton.
Officials plan to change the school’s name, because it has confused parents, visitors and even the state Education Department for years due to its similarity with adjoining Milton Terrace North. Officials haven’t decided how the new name will be chosen, said district spokesman Stuart Williams.
Construction was supposed to start April 1 for the new 81,000-square-foot building, but the lack of snow, unfrozen ground and warmer-than-normal days allowed crews to start sooner.
At a glance
What: Groundbreaking ceremony for new Ballston Spa elementary school
When: 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24
Where: Site of the new elementary school, Wood Road off Route 67 in Milton
Simultaneously: Health and Wellness Fair at Milton Terrace South, 9 a.m. to noon. Each child who attends will receive a free bicycle helmet from Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Williams had expected to hold an groundbreaking ceremony later in April, but it’s now slated for March 24.
Student Council members from the school will be involved in the ceremony, and some classes are studying the construction as it happens outside their classroom windows, Williams said.
The $26.5 million project includes paving a new school bus loop where the current school sits and is one of several parts of a $49.3 million slate of construction funding that voters approved in a 2010 referendum.
The new school is slated for completion by the start of the 2013-14 school year. At that time, students at Malta Avenue Elementary School will move to the current Milton Terrace South building while $11.8 million worth of interior renovations are done on their century-old building.
That project is expected to last about a year.
“When we’re done with that, we’ll move those students back to their new home,” said Bill McMordie, project manager from Armlin Damon & McMordie of Albany.
Then the current Milton Terrace South will be torn down and the new bus loop constructed by the spring of 2015, McMordie said.
The current Milton Terrace South was built in the early 1970s with an open-style interior, where rooms are marked off with partitions and cabinets instead of walls, Williams said.
“It was supposed to be a 30-year life on the building,” he said.
The other schools on that campus were built with masonry construction and are expected to last longer.
The $49.3 million initiative also includes $5 million in renovations to the 1950s middle school over the next three summers, including replacing windows and heating systems. The project also includes minor renovations to Milton Terrace North and Wood Road Elementary School.
The new school just west of Milton Terrace South will be served by a new entrance onto Route 67, and that driveway will also connect to Wood Road, the town road that leads to the campus’ three elementary schools.
Two classroom wings will be two stories each, as will the library. The school’s facade will be a combination of masonry and stucco-like product.
Two new playgrounds will be installed outside, replacing the single playground that Milton Terrace South and North shared.
The current school measures about 75,000 square feet, so the new building will be a little larger. It’s not designed to handle a huge influx of students, Williams said, though it will comfortably fit the enrollment increase the district has seen.
Unlike other local districts that are seeing declining enrollments, Ballston Spa schools are growing. The district, which covers parts of Malta, Milton, Ballston and Charlton, as well as the village of Ballston Spa, gained more than 100 students this school year, Williams said.
“We know we have students directly related to GlobalFoundries,” he said. “Sometimes we know, sometimes we don’t.”
The district serves about 4,400 students.
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