SALISBURY – Starting last week, teachers at Parkside High School began moving their classrooms to modular units in preparation for the building’s lengthy systematic overhaul.
These portable units, joined together to make one large complex, will house 20 classrooms and an additional administrative support office, according to Worcester County Public Schools Spokeswoman Tracy Sahler. All science classes, in addition to select upper-class math and English courses, will now relocate to first-floor classrooms or to the temporary units, referred to as Modular Hall (or Mod Hall) by school officials, as renovations begin on the main building’s second floor.
“Basically this kind of phased work affects so many people and classrooms that it was best to make the move while students were not in the building,” she said. “Parkside students were off Dec. 16 when other students attended, and will be off again Jan. 2 to give teachers who are relocating time to move and set up in their new classrooms in the portable complex.”
The teachers will remain in the units throughout the renovation process, an undertaking that will take a total of two-and-a-half to three years to complete.
Principal Kim Pinhey said this will reduce the costs and effort of having to relocate the same teachers from one building to the next.
“When upstairs is complete, we will determine who we relocate next, trying to be as minimally disruptive as possible,” she said. “We will try to move downstairs teachers upstairs to save on the cost of moving more teachers than necessary to a temporary location. We moved approximately 26 classrooms this time, and anticipate about the same amount of moves in Phase II.”
The phased renovations will address a series of dated mechanical and electrical systems, which were installed in 1974, according to the Wicomico County Board of Education Capital Improvement Plan. The updates will replace HVAC units and interior ceiling lights original to the building with efficient systems that meet code requirements.
The multi-million dollar updates are slated to begin later in the spring, according to Sahler, and added that school officials are utilizing the extended break to jumpstart the process.
To ease the transition, Sahler said students have already received new schedules and locker assignments to reflect changes in classroom locations.
“Not all classes are affected,” she said. “But since most students have classes like science at some point in the day, most will have a class in the portables at some point during the day.”
Newer portions of the building, which house Parkside’s main offices and the Department of Career and Technology Education, will not be closed for the relocation and renovation process, and students from the other high schools will continue to have classes there when they return from winter break on Jan. 2.
Sahler said Parkside students will not have to make up the two days that were lost in the moving process, and added that the school schedule allows a couple of days for construction projects, during which the teachers and staff are in the building.
The portable complex sits to the left of the building, between the high school and the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art.