Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 20, 2013

A fresh look at Fairview High

Renovations include new windows and heating and air conditioning systems

Mike James
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Jim Maggard doesn’t have to wrestle with windows anymore.

Until recently, the Fairview High School English and speech teacher resorted to duct tape and plastic ties to close his classroom windows, because the aging frames were loose and wouldn’t seal.

Mopping up puddles where rain forced its way through was a commonplace chore.

That is one reason when Maggard and the rest of Fairview’s teachers and students walked into school earlier this month they were pleased to learn an extensive renovation project was almost complete, and new, energy-efficient, weather-tight windows had replaced the old ones.

The $3 million renovation, which started around Christmas, is about 95 percent finished, according to Principal Garry McPeek. In addition to window replacement, the project included new heating and air conditioning, fresh paint in hallways and cafeteria and new floor tiles in halls, cafeteria and library.

The cafeteria and kitchen are air conditioned for the first time, making lunchtime more comfortable for students, McPeek said. There was enough money in the budget for new cafeteria tables.

The new air conditioning system eliminated noisy window units throughout the building, he said.

Teachers often had to turn the air conditioners off to hear and be heard in the classroom, Maggard said.

The new heating system is significantly more energy efficient than the old one and warms the building more evenly, McPeek said. Using the previous system sometimes forced him to use his office air conditioner during the cold months to ensure sufficient heat at the other end of the building.

Some classes met in the Renfroe building across the street while work progressed, and by the end of the 2012-13 school year, only about five classrooms remained open in the main building, McPeek said. Other classes met in the library and multipurpose rooms.

“I can’t tell you the effect it has had on the culture here,” McPeek said. “The kids never complained and we never used it as a crutch, but you can tell they appreciate it.”

The renovation was authorized and the money appropriated for the project well before district voters approved a 3 percent utilities tax in February.

School board members have said they will use money from the tax to fund further improvements at the high school, including addition of middle-school classrooms and a stage for the gymnasium.

MIKEā€ˆJAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.