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Old lockers and wall murals remain in the hallway as construction continues at Twin Valley Middle/High School in Whitingham. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)

WHITINGHAM -- Despite some setbacks, construction and renovation continues mostly on schedule at the Twin Valley Middle and High School site.

"We're going good. We're about four weeks behind," said Wilmington School Board Chairman and Twin Valley School Building Committee Chairman Phil Taylor. "It's really just because of weather and contractor issues."

He told the Reformer that pressure, in the form of penalties, had been put on the contractors. He believes that time lost could be made up.

In August, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off the project that will turn the Whitingham Elementary and Twin Valley Middle School into the Twin Valley Middle and High School. Since then, there has been quite a bit of progress in the front, rear and interior of the building. There are various crews doing their best to ensure that the school is ready by September, said Taylor.

"For us, it's not an option not to be open by September," he said. "Financially, we're staying on budget. We haven't hinged on contingency funding yet. As with the (Twin Valley) Elementary School, it's always tight."

He was referring to the Wilmington site where elementary school students from that town as well as Whitingham currently attend. Previously known as the Deerfield Valley Elementary School, now it is the Twin Valley Elementary School.

The efforts to consolidate the two town's schools is estimated to cost $13 million.

Through construction management rather than a general construction agreement, the committee has been able to save costs by value engineering. The practice allows for more careful tracking of spending.

"It's been pretty successful. We're going to continue to do that," said Taylor. "We're always a little on edge every month. I think that the concern is always present, keeping us on our toes."

While students still attend the school, the building has been sectioned off.

A new music room is under construction at Twin Valley Middle/High School in Whitingham.(Kayla Rice/Reformer)
A new music room is under construction at Twin Valley Middle/High School in Whitingham. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
The pods that make up the school eventually will connect all the sections together.

"Right now, the school is cut off in half," said Taylor. "The kids haven't noticed much going on with the noise or dust."

The bulk of the construction efforts are taking place outside. The frame for the administrative office in the front the school will be going up this week.

With steel structures such as the office, Taylor told the Reformer that once the foundations are set, it won't take long for the frame to go up.

Where the former gym had been, there will be a media and arts center. The space had previously been too small to host championship games. The media center and gym will be connected. The gym's frame is scheduled to go up on Feb. 1.

The media and arts center will have a television studio, instrument practice rooms, conference rooms and an auditorium that doubles as a theater.

"You'll really feel you're in a theater," said Taylor. "It will be used for band and drama."

The auditorium is scheduled for completion in April. It will take up approximately half of the space of the media center. The stage will be built out more. It will be expanded to where a row of seats previously had been.

Science rooms and adjoining laboratories will be next to two new bathrooms, which will be located where locker rooms had been.

Facing the backyard of the school, new windows are being installed to replace outdated ones.

"It felt too institutional," said Taylor of the previous ones.

In the rear of the building, workers are setting up foundations for the space where industrial arts and art classes will be held.

"Basically, there's a whole other unit in the back," said Taylor.

On any given day, there are seven or eight different crews involved in excavation, heating, electric, carpentry and more.

According to Taylor, the mechanical and cosmetic improvements often take the most time.

"It's amazing what you can spend on the mechanicals. It tends to be 50 percent of the project," he concluded.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.