New Classrooms, Parking Lot for Middle School
What to expect when school starts up.
The administration found that rooms formerly used to teach shop classes at the middle school could be converted into classrooms, which “gives us room for growth over the next couple of years,” according to Board of Education member Al Burgunder.
Robert Accardi, the principal at Chatham High School, said that the new classrooms should be "ready to go" when school starts again Sept. 6.
Other upgrades to the school include a newly repaved and painted parking lot, which was finished before Hurricane Irene hit in August, and other upgrades to the physical plan of the school.
"When budgets get tight, sometimes school maintenance suffers," Accardi said. "I'm happy to say that our upper level administration leadership [see] fit to spend the appropriate dollars to keep our building in shape.
District administrators are not solely responsible for changes to the school's appearance. The Parent Teacher Organization donated money for a new outdoor patio space on the side of the school building.
"It will be a nice place for the kids to gather before the school day begins or while they're waiting for parents to pick them up. It's away from the travel lanes and we're having the initials CMS put in," Accardi said.
He added that he hopes the space will serve the same purpose as the entry to Chatham High School, which has benches and a wide walking space to keep kids away from passing traffic.
Speaking of Traffic
Traffic around Chatham Middle School can jam, since the middle school is located on Main Street and near the CVS shopping center. The Van Doren Avenue entrance to the school is currently closed off to vehicular traffic. The county bridge over Days Creek partially collapsed on Sunday, Aug. 28 during hurricane Irene, causing a large sinkhole approximately 9 ft. long and 6 ft. deep.
The sinkhole left a 14-inch reinforced water supply pipe for Chatham Borough exposed and threatened to cut off the borough's water. Borough Mayor Nelson Vaughan said the borough has engaged a contractor to fix the problem.
"It's a matter of public safety," Vaughan said.
As of Thursday, the contractor had installed supports for the pipe, Diverted Days Creek and was getting ready to lay cement under the bridge. Traffic blocks were set up around the hole to prevent both cars and pedestrians from getting too close and making the hole even larger.
Vaughan said the contractor has tentatively planned for the bridge to be open again by Tuesday morning when school starts.
A Break in Enrollment
Enrollment at Chatham Middle School, as in most district schools, has increased greatly over the last several years, and the trend is likely to continue.
According to a demographer's report submitted to the Board of Education earlier this year, enrollment at Chatham Middle School will grow from from 973 to 1,062 between the 2011-12 academic year and the 2014-2015 year, a growth of 9.3 percent. These reports tend to be conservative.
This year, the incoming sixth grade class is slightly smaller than past incoming classes. "It's a small change from what we have had the lat couple of years," Accardi said. "I think it just crested over 300 students, and the prior two classes [this year's seventh and eighth grade classes] were 345 and 315 students."
Total enrollment as of Sept. 1 is 963. According to the demographer's report, enrollment will climb again after this year.
Back to School
School begins at 7:59 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Back to School Night is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Chatham Patch brings you everything you need to know for the start of the school year with several stories over the course of the week to get students, and parents, ready for the year to begin.
In case you missed it:
Wednesday—The parking lot isn't the only expansion at Chatham High School.
Thursday—Chatham Middle School has a new dress code, new lockers and new classrooms.
Coming up next:
Friday—What parents and students at Lafayette Avenue School need to know.
Saturday—Familiar faces for students at Southern Boulevard School.
Sunday—Milton Avenue School has a new fulltime librarian this year.
Monday—After four days without electricity, Washington Avenue School prepares to welcome students and three new staff members this year.
Tuesday—School begins today, and we'll have photos from schools throughout the district as kids start another year. We'll also look at 9/11 curriculum in the district this year.
Wednesday—A look at the district's new anti-bullying policy.