LEWISTON – When school opens Wednesday, students and staff at Lewiston Middle School won't be able to walk in the Central Avenue entrance.
A major construction project that began in June means the front entrance is fenced off while crews build a new wing on the front of the building.
From now through the end of January, the main entrance will be on Campus Avenue.
“It's a pretty nice entrance. There's lawn space. We have a big blue 'LMS Main Entrance' sign over the top,” Principal Shawn Chabot said.
Parents dropping off students will pull over in front on Central Avenue as they've always done, Chabot said. Students will walk from Central Avenue to Campus Avenue.
Buses dropping off and picking up students will be separated from parents dropping off students in vehicles; the bus drop off/pick up will be on Campus Avenue, Chabot said.
The city will paint bus stripes on the pavement.
Parking, sometimes used by visitors to the nearby St. Mary's Regional Medical Center, will not be allowed in front of the school on Campus Avenue from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking will be allowed after 3 p.m. “We've been working with St. Mary's,” Chabot said.
Late last week the first floor of the school didn't look good, Chabot said. The halls were cluttered with equipment as staff worked on the building. “But we have a solid plan. By Monday or Tuesday the building will look good, even under construction. We will be ready for our students.”
The front section of the building is fenced off as Hebert Construction builds a new three-floor wing, part of a $9.2 million renovation approved by voters in July 2012. It is the first major improvement to the building since it was built as Lewiston High School in the early 1930s.
It is hoped the first floor of the wing will be ready in late January, when Central Avenue will again become the main entrance, Chabot said.
On the first floor will be administrative offices and principal, guidance and nurses' offices. A reception area and main lobby will be more welcoming to the public, with better security to monitor who's entering and leaving the building.
The second and third floors will eventually become a new library, art and science labs, and classrooms, but until then it will be used as temporary classrooms.
After January, classrooms in different sections of the building will be closed, the students moved to the second and third floors of the new wing so old classrooms can be improved.
Doing the construction that way allows the school to avoid renting portable classrooms. “That would have cost over $100,000,” Chabot said. “We're able to use that money to reinvest in the project.”