Progress at Amherst’s new Powers Elementary site

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times
Building and grounds supervisor Chuck Grimmett stands where the main entrance of the new Powers Elementary School is being constructed.


You can’t grasp how large the new Powers Elementary will be until you’re standing in the middle of the construction zone.

We were allowed to walk under the steel girders and through areas where walls were going up Jan. 17 at the South Lake Street site.

It’s massive — and a huge portion on the north side of the building hasn’t even started yet.

District building and grounds supervisor Chuck Grimmett took us in through a mechanical room door on the west side of the construction site, showing where electrical and heating systems will be housed, food preparation areas, the main office area where studs are up, prekindergarten classrooms, and the gymnasium.

Teachers will very soon get to go inside the work site in small groups “to give everyone an idea of what’s behind the drywall,” Grimmett said.

At any given time, there are about 50 tradesmen working on site, he said: “They are respectful, quiet” and there have been few accidents.

Bricks are being laid on the west side of the 119,000-square-foot school — expect to see the outside look relatively complete long before the inside is done in October.

First floor kindergarten and second floor second grade sections are under roof now.

There is a plastic enclosure over the southernmost wing of the building and insulation going up in large chunks, explained Tim Rini of Icon Construction.

There is structural steel going up on the section where dining, art and music classrooms, and special education will be housed — the roof will go on that section in February, Rini said.

Construction is expected to be “substantially complete” by Oct. 1 and a final cleaning will take place until the end of December, which is when furniture will be moved in ahead of the school’s January opening.

Aaron Rodebaugh of the GPD Group said a bid package is being finalized for furniture, playground equipment, and interactive monitors.

In November and December, the building should be ready for teachers to start moving in, learn about the new technology that comes with the building, and get comfortable, he said.

District superintendent Steven Sayers said a “transition team” made up of administrators, teachers, and a parent has been formed and will convene in early February.

There will be two listening sessions in which parents of next year’s third-graders will be able to give feedback about the project. Comments will help plan the switch to the new Powers school.

The old building on Washington Street will be ready for abatement and demolition as early as February 2020, said Rini.


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