Eastern Wake News

Committee backs plan for all-new EW Middle

Members of the Wake County school board’s facilities committee have shown general support for a plan that could mean an all-new look for East Wake Middle School by the 2018-19 school year.

The committee was presented two options by facilities design and construction staff during a November meeting: renovate and add to the facility built in 1990, or tear it down and start from scratch. In the end, the members were leaning toward the latter.

The school is one of 11 in the county that might be considered for major or whole-campus renovations as part of a proposed 2016 school construction bond issue.

“We’re planning as if there will be a bond or if there’s some other way it will be funded,” said Brian Conklin, senior director of WCPSS facilities design and construction. “All we can do is work recognizing there are needs. The funding will be the county’s call.”

The ongoing design phase was funded by the 2013 bond. A proposed timeline shows construction beginning in the summer of 2017 and being completed by December 2018, with occupancy in January 2019.

The school off Old Milburnie Road just outside Knightdale has 54 teaching classrooms, many undersized. It also has rainwater drainage and external surface issues and, in some locations, inadequate insulation – a natural enemy for an old heating and air system.

“You’ve got moisture infiltration, mildew and efflorescence – that white discoloring that you’ll see,” Conklin reported to the committee. “With the evidence of moisture infiltration, it is suggestive of probably some behind-the-wall moisture conditions involved and some of the other issues that are hidden, so we might be headed for some trouble unless we do something to address the envelope there.”

It is estimated a new roof would be needed in the next 5-10 years. Faulty basins designed to catch rainwater from the roof drains have led to erosion issues and “created a maintenance headache,” Conklin said.

“And to try and keep all these joints and flashings (in the gutter system) maintained has been a very difficult task,” he said. “It’s only added to the moisture infiltration issues.”

‘Option A’

The committee considered the pros and cons of revamping the school for a total cost of $49.8 million and new construction with a price tag of $51.4 million.

The first option calls for a mix of moderate and major renovation and adding to the existing facility to bring it up to the desired standard of 82 teaching spaces. It adds 99,000 square feet of space for a total of 234,000 square feet.

It also involves replacing the HVAC system, lighting and restrooms, adding a new auditorium, gymnasium and dining area, renovating the existing auxiliary gym, and increasing parking.

The cost includes $3.7 million to fix the exterior wall issues, $1.6 million for roof improvements and $2.8 million to complete the project in phases.

“It would be a phased construction over 30 months in order to complete the renovation,” Conklin said. “(The students) would be off site one year, going to the newly-opened (August, 2017) River Bend Middle campus and there would be still some phasing and completion of that work once the students returned the next year.”

New construction

Students would get to stay on site if a new East Wake Middle is constructed. They would occupy the existing building until the new one, proposed to the north of the current building location, is completed.

It would be the same, 210,000-square-foot building prototype used at Rolesville Middle, Mills Park Middle and Holly Grove Middle schools, with some adjustments to account for more current programming.

The projected cost includes $1.1 million for demolition of the existing structure, $1.5 million for the option of reconstructing some athletic fields, and a savings of $600,000 in architectural and engineering fees for reusing a prototype design.

“For a slightly increased investment, you will have the advantage of a more efficient layout more in alignment with our program needs and requirements,” Conklin told the committee. “We’ll have 24,000 less square feet (compared to the renovation option) to heat and cool and maintain in the future. You’re basically eliminating the risks of some of the design configurations of the current building and the phasing will be a whole lot easier to work with.”