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Despite Ongoing Construction, Schools Ready for Students

Undergoing major renovations, Oakton Elementary will continue work during school year

Anyone who has driven by recently may have asked themselves, "Don't those construction workers know school starts next week?"

They do. And they're ready.

The outside appearance of Oakton Elementary is deceiving. In fact, the school has been suitable for faculty and students since last week, said Kevin Sneed, director of design and constructive services for Fairfax County Public Schools.

"It’s amazing to see how they have systematically demolished portions of the building, and rebuilt it in only 6 weeks!" wrote Christine Gray, principal of Oakton Elementary, in an Aug. 17 post on her renovation blog. "While it may not look like it from the outside, the building will be ready ..."

When the construction crews finish their work next year, the renovations to the 66-year-old school will have cost about $13 million. , new administrative offices, a new library and a renovated auditorium. The project will expand the school about 21,000 square feet, from 71,000 to 91,600 square feet.

The construction area has been delineated and barricaded to keep students from being able to wander onto the construction site.

"Obviously the kids are safe. We do this all the time," Sneed said. "The kids are really great during construction projects. I've been here 25 years and have run into very few problems. It's why I have gray hair. I'm always thinking about this stuff."

Oakton Elementary was by no means the only school in the county to undergo construction this summer, as 91 FCPS schools have been worked on this summer. and among them.

Waples Mill had very little construction work this summer in preparing for full-day kindergarten. Workers converted a few rooms into full-size classrooms, Sneed said. Overall, the project cost FCPS $2,000.

Oakton High is receiving a cool roof, which calls for the roof material to be torn off and replaced. Most of the roof has been replaced, but the project will not be completed this summer. Sneed said workers will have to return next summer to finish the project, and he will likely try to get crews to do some work over spring break to get a head start.

The new roof is project to cost about $3 million.

"It reflects 99 percent of the sunlight," Sneed said. "It has a huge impact on saving money especially in trying to cool the building."

FCPS opens the 2011-12 school year Tuesday.

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