(HELENA) Heavy equipment was on site at Jim Darcy Elementary School Tuesday morning to begin tearing down the school building – just days after the last day of class.
“Today’s Day One of demo, and it’s going great,” said Kalli Kind, director of support services for Helena Public Schools.
The school district is moving into the final stretch of its ongoing project to build three brand-new elementary schools – Jim Darcy, Bryant and Central. The new facilities are set to open in August.
At Jim Darcy and Bryant, the old schools will be demolished and their sites will become part of the new schools’ playgrounds. The work has to be completed quickly to be ready for the start of the next school year.
Jim Darcy’s main building will be knocked down, while modular classrooms will be moved to other schools.
“The bulk of the demolition will be done this week – probably 80 percent by the end of the week, and then just a little bit remaining next week,” Kind said.
Workers are preserving some of the building’s glued laminated beams, which will be converted into “learning stairs” in the new Jim Darcy.
“Although it is a milestone to see the old Jim Darcy go, there’s so much to celebrate with the new,” said Kind. “I think the district and the architects and the construction teams have been very thoughtful about trying to take a piece of the old and bring it to the new for the continuity.”
Demolition has not begun yet at Bryant School. Kind said crews are currently working on asbestos abatement, mostly in the floors and ceilings. It will be about two weeks before they will begin taking the building down.
Once demolition work is completed, crews will move on to excavation, then to landscaping.
Kind said the school campuses will be fenced off while the work continues.
“We understand people want to look and see, and we welcome those people to view – just out of the fenced area,” she said.