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Orientation set for Hastings Middle school students

The orientation schedule for Hastings Middle School students has been set.

Fifth-grade students will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23; sixth-grade students will meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24. Seventh- and eighth-grade students will meet at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. A make-up session will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29.

This 2011-2012 school year will bring a new Hastings Middle School concept -- from a three-grade (sixth- to eighth-grade school) to a four-grade (fifth- to eighth-grade) school.

Planning began more than a year ago, well before the 2009 approved referendum, which set the funding for the addition, other district maintenance projects and some upgrades to the elementary buildings. District administrators were discussing the move of kindergarten from Tilden building back to the elementary schools - Kennedy, McAuliffe and Pinecrest.

Remodeling in the Tilden building will make room for Hastings Community Education offices and the Hastings Area Senior Center. That remodeling is expected to be completed after Labor Day.

At the middle school, there is an addition being completed to the building. It is located on the northwest corner of the building. The addition is two stories tall, matches the current building, and will contain eight classrooms. A number of classrooms and programs within the middle school program will be moved around in order to accommodate the inclusion of fifth-grade students.

Wold Architects designed the addition, which is being built by Jorgenson Construction. Wold worked with a task force of school staff and citizens to determine where the addition would be built, how it would be connected to the present building, and what amenities would be included in the addition. The task force met several times and provided a great deal of information, input and direction for the architect.

Two other large mechanical projects at the middle school site are currently under way. The heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system at the middle school is as old as the building is -- more than 40 years. Some portions were built in 1969 and some portions were built in 1979.

The HVAC system that serves the portion of the building that is closest to Highway 55 is being replaced. This represents approximately 30 percent of the middle school. Currently, a steam system provides the heating, and there is no cooling in classrooms at the middle school.

This project will change the HVAC system for approximately 28 classrooms. The new system will provide forced air heat that is heated by hot water instead of steam. On hot days in the late spring and early fall, it will also include cooled air for those classrooms. Another improvement that will be completed in this scope of work is a major safety upgrade. A fire suppression sprinkling system will be installed in the portions of the building that currently do not have fire suppression.

The funding for the HVAC replacement at the middle school was one of several projects that were included in a bond that the voters approved in November 2009. The funding for the bond was financed through a low interest loan from the federal government. The bond included roof replacement, window and door replacement, tuck pointing, building safety upgrades, the removal of asbestos, the separation of potable water lines at the middle school and the construction that is required for the new grade configuration. Other projects, such as the parking lot pavement at Kennedy Elementary and technology infrastructure upgrades throughout the district, are paid for through other funding. Many of the projects were completed last summer, others completed during the school year. Most of the bond projects will be completed by the fall of 2011.