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Interior of Jamestown, Clara Byrd Baker get face lifts

Ryan McKinnon

JAMES CITY— If a fresh paint job can ease the back-to-school blues, students at Jamestown High and Clara Byrd Baker Elementary school are in luck.

Both schools received the full attention of the Williamsburg-James City County school operations staff this summer, who raced the clock in their efforts to oversee interior makeovers at both schools.

On Friday, crews were putting the finishing touches on a $1.67 million refurbishing of Clara Byrd Baker and a $3.63 million refurbishing of Jamestown that includes new carpet and floor tiles and some fresh paint.

"When it comes down to it, we have 45 days to do summer projects. The day school ends the contractor comes in here," said Alan Robertson, the district's facilities management coordinator. "(Clara Byrd Baker) was like a beehive this summer."

At Jamestown, the work was spread out over last summer and this summer. Students will notice the first floor now looks as fresh as the second, which was refurbished last summer.

Robertson said a design team composed of teachers from all grade levels made the major design decisions. Teachers picked out paint colors, the amount of carpeting in each room, the accent colors in each room and the design of tiles on the floor.

"We really do try to involve staff in any project we are building. The teachers' perspectives are different than the Central Office perspective," Robertson said. "The insight they provide is really good."

In spite of teachers having to pack up their entire classrooms once school ended to make way for the work, and then unpack once the summer ended, the faculty is excited about the changes, Clara Byrd Baker Principal Mike Hurley said.

"You'd be surprised – the morale of the teachers went straight up," said Hurley. "The spirits of the teachers are rejuvenated."

"I love it. I think it's bright," said first grade teacher Patty Seftas. "It is lovely."

In addition to sprucing up the aesthetics at Clara Byrd Baker, the operations team oversaw construction of a second security vestibule anyone entering the building must pass through. In the old design, visitors could be buzzed in without being seen by the front office, but now visitors pass through two levels of security.

"This is trying to limit the flow of people coming into your building and you don't know where they have gone," Robertson said.

This summer also saw several other major capital improvement projects.

♦Demolition began at James Blair in preparation for the construction of a new middle school.

♦Crews resurfaced the track and installed a new roof at Jamestown High School.

♦The district added 40 parking spaces to the parking lot and installed a partial new roof at Clara Byrd Baker.

Robertson said the district tries to update the schools on a 14-year cycle, but it is always subject to the availability of funding.

The construction of an auxiliary gym at Lafayette High School is in the design phase, said WJCC Spokesperson Betsy Overkamp-Smith. It is likely to be another year before construction on the gym begins, she said, due to the length of the design, site investigation, permitting and bidding processes.

McKinnon can be reached at 757-345-2341.

School capital improvement over the summer

Clara Byrd Baker refurbishing: $1.647 million

Clara Byrd Baker parking lot: $330,000

Clara Byrd Baker partial roof: $93,000

Jamestown High School refurbishing: $3.632 million

Jamestown High School roof: $814,482

Jamestown High School track: $453,033

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