Students, teachers and parents are all busy preparing for the start of the new school year but they aren’t the only ones. The Cleveland School District has been humming with work all summer to update the high school and middle school campuses. The updates are due partly to the district’s desire to improve facilities at the two locations and partly due to certain items that were not up to current codes. One of the main areas of focus was ensuring that both schools were in full compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “We did some pretty extensive work at the middle school. The existing building did not meet fire egress regulations and did not have walls that were appropriately fire rated. We took out all the walls, all the celling tiles and enlarged the space where the music room had previously been,” said Neil Waggoner with JBHM Architects in Columbus. “We put in new lights, a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and new walls which are all up to code. We put in new toilets and made them ADA compliant. We also added some walls so that it went from being just one large music room to a music room and a health class,” continued Waggoner. Another important project was the technology building at the middle school. “We renovated pretty much the entire thing. We basically gutted the building and went from there,” said Waggoner. “We also installed a chair lift to help people access the stage in the auditorium. It’s a platform that will allow them to go up and just roll off or step off at the top of the stage. We also built a new bus drop off canopy, so that is a nice addition for the students and parents,” he said. Major renovations were also taking place across town at Cleveland Central High School. “There was an upstairs science lab that badly needed to be updated. We cleaned up the windows and repainted them, removed the old lab equipment, removed asbestos tiles that were in there, raised the ceiling, redid the overhead lights, added a new hood for chemical work and all new duct work. We also painted the room and installed the new laboratory equipment.” One of the biggest additions at the high school has been the building of an elevator. “That was kind of a unique part of the project. Since this high school is designated as a historic building we had to get special permission from the (Mississippi) Department of Archives and History to even build it,” said Waggoner “Then we had to add it on to the back of the building so that it is kind of hidden. We did find brick that will almost exactly match the current structure. The goal is that when you look at it, it will appear to be part of the original building rather than an addition,” he continued. “There are also multiple ramps for ADA access at all exterior doors and thresholds. In addition we raised concrete walkways to make sure the thresholds had the correct slope and were more accessible,” Waggoner said. The building updates and projects have been underway for almost a year and they are nearing completion. “The contractor was given notice to proceed back on Oct. 23, 2017. We have been doing inspections weekly to ensure everything is installed according to our speculations and holding monthly meetings to be sure everything is on track,” he said. Currently Waggoner and the rest of the project team are at a bit of a standstill. “It was a pretty tough project because there were a lot of pieces and parts in two different locations so it was a lot to handle but we have actually completed all of the projects with the exception of the elevator,” he said. “We are on hold hold until the elevator manufacturer gets here. We have the elevator shaft built, but we need the manufacturer to bring the car out so we can get that installed.” Waggoner said he wasn’t sure when it would arrive but he and the rest of the team are hopeful that all work can be completed by the first day of school next week.