By Marsha Sills
September 29, 2012
LAFAYETTE — The majority of the nearly $4 million in renovations to the N.P. Moss Annex campus are on track to be complete by Nov. 1, Lafayette Parish school system officials said Thursday.
In recent years, the campus housed disparate offices and programs for the school system, but its facelift is in preparation for its new purpose as the N.P. Moss Preparatory School and home of the district’s alternative programs.
The alternative programs include classes for students with discipline issues and classes that allow overage students to catch up academically with their peers. Charter High, created in 1998 for students who want to earn a high school diploma in self-paced courses, will also be housed on the campus.
The campus was open to students in late August, however, some programs, like those for overage students, will not begin until after Nov. 1, when renovations to the campus’ main classroom building are expected to be complete, school officials said.
After that, work will move to a wing of classrooms that has been used in the interim and other parts of the campus, such as the gymnasium, with the entire campus renovation expected to be complete before students’ Christmas break, said Kyle Bordelon, district facilities director.
The brunt of the work involves installing central air and heating into parts of the main brick building, which was constructed in the 1920s. The prep work for the exterior duct vents has been time consuming because workers must break through about a foot of brick wall to make the opening, said Wayne Armand, job supervisor for MD Descant, the project’s contractor.
“It’s a day-and-a-half for each new fresh air duct,” he said.
The campus’ main two-story, brick building was constructed in 1926 and expanded in the 1950s. Efforts are being taken to restore some of the historic touches within the main building, such as its longleaf pine floors in first-floor classrooms and decorative plaster walls and other features in its auditorium, said Tanya Zaunbrecher, project manager with MWL Architects, the project’s design firm.
“We didn’t want to lose the historical integrity of the building,” Zaunbrecher said.
The auditorium’s rows of wooden seating have been removed and will be refurbished. Other updates include new lighting, repairing ornamental features on its pilasters and a handicap-accessible stage. On Thursday, scaffolding filled the auditorium and painters prepped its walls.
The majority of the work involves updating the building’s interior with new paint, tile flooring and new fixtures for restrooms. Renovations for the cafeteria and gym are also part of the project and the campus’ gravel parking lot has been paved and landscaped.
Upgrades have also been made to a smaller two-story building on the site that houses the campus library and upstairs are classrooms that will house the new Charter High. The entire campus with its gym, cafeteria, library and additional classroom buildings is about 60,000 square feet, Zaunbrecher said.
Superintendent Pat Cooper has said he expects the move to Moss to help reduce the district’s dropout rate, centralize resources, such as counselors and social workers, for students at one site and offer smaller student-teacher ratios, which gives students additional instructional attention.