Have you ever wondered what is happening with bathroom construction at Berkeley High School (BHS)? Has the bathroom retrofit been completed so that Berkeley High students can use them?
When BHS students came back to school in September, most construction was completed. However, bathrooms on the first floor and the third floor of the main academic building (the C-building) were still “in the works.”
Now, as we head to Christmas time, the bathrooms are still incomplete and until now there hadn’t been any indication to the general public as to when they would be done.
Back in March, a schedule was drawn up for the construction projects of the C-building at BHS. There weren’t any requirements set for the completion of the bathrooms on the first or third floor of the C-building.
“We didn’t think that it was possible for the contractors to keep to a certain time frame,” said Lew Jones, Berkeley Unified School District director of facilities. “At the time, we knew that there could be a number of things that weren’t seen initially in the bathrooms. These things could considerably lengthen the construction time.”
The plan for the bathroom design includes many things. First they have to perform a lead abatement, followed by a demolition of the bathrooms (which occurred in the summer.) Then they need to do some re-piping, some tiling, some flooring, and hang some fixtures. However, this blueprint can’t account for any “hidden problems” in the bathrooms, which can delay construction. Unfortunately, this was the case.
“There were some hidden conditions in the bathrooms,” Jones said. “We had to replace some metal studs, which hold the walls up, because there had been water damage. Because of this situation, we had to get approval from the state before continuation of the project.”
The contract calls for the bathroom work to be wrapped up by the end of the Christmas break, when the students return to school in January. The contractors are two or three weeks behind the original schedule.
Some teachers aren’t ecstatic about the bathroom predicament.
“I don’t like that the bathrooms aren’t accessible,” said one teacher. “However, I think that it is worth it to reconstruct the bathrooms. I remember many years back, when I moved to the C-building, the bathrooms were really a mess—there wasn’t any toilet paper or seat covers.”
Some students aren’t too optimistic about the school district’s ability to follow through on their promises.
“I would be disappointed if the project wasn’t done by the end of the Christmas break,” remarked Calvin Young, 15, a sophomore, “because it would make me feel that our school isn’t together enough to provide adequate bathrooms. Yet, I still wouldn’t be surprised.”
Jones said he understands the students’ and faculty’s frustrations.
“We knew that there was going to be an impact,” asserted Jones. “We know that this does affect the students and the staff. It is more than we had thought.”
The C-building was originally built in the 1920s. There was a small reconstruction project in the 1960s. However, the last major retrofit was in 1983. The bathrooms at BHS haven’t been remodeled for over 20 years.
Vivian Haesloop, 16, a sophomore, said, “It’s a little frustrating, because bathroom lines are pretty long at lunch ... Well at least for the girl’s bathroom. It would nice if the extra bathrooms were there.”
Rio Bauce is a Berkeley High sophomore. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.