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  • Kadynce Welsh

Bulldog's new home is not a risk: Follow up to previous article - “The Bulldogs New Building Coming Apart at the Seams”

By Kadynce Welsh 

The Cenntenialight 


After further  investigation, it has been determined that the issues previously mentioned concerning the new school building, such as cracks in floors, peeling paint, broken sinks,  and walls separating from each other, do not threaten the safety of Bulldog students and staff, nor do they need to cause concern. 


Robert Lawson, a professional with extensive experience as the Executive Director of Facilities & Construction Management in District 60, provided valuable insights into these misconceptions.


What was previously believed to be structural cracks have been determined to be settling cracks, a regular occurrence in new construction. 


Lawson explained, "The cracks that [you] are seeing are common in new building construction and are called settling cracks.  They are often from concrete settling in on the foundation and soils." 


Settling cracks appear as a building settles into its foundation. They are not a cause for concern as they do not affect the building's structural integrity. 


Regarding the paint chipping on classroom walls and in hallways, Lawson explained that the building was designed using environmentally friendly and sustainable construction materials, including interior paints that are low or free from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).


"The building was designed as a Collaborative of High Performing Schools (CHPS) design that requires environmentally friendly and sustainable construction materials to be used.  This includes interior paints that are low or free from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)."  


The type of paint used is suitable for a school environment where many people are frequently present, keeping paint fumes minuscule. 


"These types of paints do not have the same type of bonding solids that other types of latex paint contain to keep the smelly fumes at a minimum."


However, this type of paint is more sensitive to damage. It can be easily affected, which explains why teachers have been instructed not to hang decorations in their classrooms.


"VOC-free types of paint are more sensitive to damage. As a rule of thumb, scotch tape should never be used on any interior paint, as the adhesive in the tape can lift the paint from the painted surface, regardless of whether it's VOC-free or a more regular type of latex paint." 


Centennial is one of many district buildings that have experienced paint damage on walls. 


"We have a lot of paint damage in schools across the district from [scotch] tape being used on wall surfaces," concluded Lawson. This is not a reflection of the building's quality but rather a result of improper use of the walls. The building is designed to withstand normal wear and tear, but it is essential for everyone to use it responsibly to maintain its condition. 


In the previous article, it was stated that sinks were hanging off the wall. This, however, was not a structural issue; instead, this was caused by a student either sitting or leaning on it in an inappropriate manner. Later that same month, when the sink was broken, it was replaced with a different model. 


Lawson shared he needed more input on why the sink was not replaced with the same model used throughout the building and stated he would look into it. 


Lawson revealed that the sinks' sensors could not be functioning correctly due to vandalism by students cutting the sensor wires under the sink or the faucet manufactured with a faulty sensor.  


Lawson explained, "We have experienced several faucets having the wires being cut under the sink from vandalism.  There is also the chance that a faucet may have had a bad sensor from the factory that needs replacing."


When comparing the new Centennial High School building to its predecessor, it becomes evident that previous concerns were unfounded, providing reassurance about the safety and longevity of the new building.  


"The problem with the old Centennial was caused by expansive soils and high levels of groundwater that was causing the building to heave and twist." 


In addition, there have been some misconceptions that the new building was built on the same foundation as the old one, which is false. The new building is built on a different type of foundation, allowing movement within the building without issues, as explained by Lawson. 


"The new building wasn't constructed on the same foundation and is an entirely different type of design that allows the building to move and flex without causing structural damage." 


Unlike the new building, the old building had many significant structural issues over the years, making it unsafe to occupy. These issues were primarily due to the building's age and the lack of modern construction techniques and materials. The new building, on the other hand, was designed and constructed with these issues in mind, ensuring its safety and longevity.


These issues led to many public meetings, and the community decided to replace the building with the present one, which now houses the Bulldogs.  


Lawson explained, "After several public meetings, the community decided to replace Centennial due to significant structural issues that had developed over the past several years." He continued, "The old building was at risk of becoming unsafe to occupy."


Aside from the old building's safety concerns, there are other significant differences between the two buildings in terms of structural integrity and safety. The new building was constructed with expansion joints, a feature that the old building lacked. 


These joints allow the building to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, reducing the risk of cracks and other structural issues. This design feature enhances the building's longevity and ensures its safety over time. 


Lawson explained that the building was designed with expansion joints to allow for soil expansion and contraction, enabling it to move as soil conditions change. The new building is a fifty-year design, and the previous building also had a similar design and lasted 50 years.


"The building is considered a fifty-year building, which means that it is projected to last 50 years before major building renovations are needed. The former building was also a fifty-year building design, and it lasted fifty years."


As Lawson explained, District 60 followed a rigorous and transparent process to select the contractor for the new building. 


This process involved an open procurement process, where services from an outside source were involved. Many contractors submitted their qualifications to the school district for evaluation.


The district then conducted a comprehensive review of the qualifications, considering factors such as the contractor's experience, past performance, and adherence to safety standards. This ensured that the chosen contractor was highly qualified and capable of delivering a safe, high-quality building. 


Students and staff should consider how they treat the new school building. Let the people make it, once again, last for decades.



Courtesy photo by Ashlynn Miles

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