By Kara Lopp
Before the new Bain Elementary School opens to students this fall, officials must replace water damaged ceiling tiles, improve landscaping drainage, install a valve in a handicapped shower and more.
The new building had its first site visit by an inspector with the Mecklenburg County Health Department last week, which inspects all schools and daycares in the county as part of the Division of Environmental Health. The school at 11540 Bain School Road wasn’t given a score, but inspector Matthew Cook did note minor problems that need to be fixed before the building welcomes staff and students in August.
The April 29 site visit allows school officials to “know where they’re at” on school building standards and other code requirements before they receive a score, said the health department’s Stephen Graham, who oversees all school inspections.
“That way there’s no surprises when they’re actually scored,” Graham said. “We would rather be up front about it rather than giving them a surprise. A lot of these construction things are easier to fix if the contractor is still there.”
That will be the case with the new Bain, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Mike Higgins, who is overseeing the project for the district. Crews are working on “punch list” final tasks inside the building, including touching up paint, and items noted by Cook during the inspection will be fixed soon, Higgins said.
The project is “moving along nicely,” Higgins said. “We’ll be ready for the upcoming school year.”
According to the site visit report, Cook found: water damaged ceiling tiles in some hallways and the staff lounge; no back flow prevention device on a handicapped shower wand; the incorrect type of ceiling tiles in the administrative area restroom and health room restroom; automatic faucets with run times that were too short to wash hands; and landscaping without proper drainage at the front entrance.
All of the violations are minor, easy to fix and shouldn’t cause alarm, both Cook and Graham said this week.
Minor water damage, Graham said, is common for inspectors to find even in new buildings.
“You miss some caulking somewhere and you’re going to have a leak,” he said.
Cook added: “During the course of the project, somehow water dripped off pipes and stained some ceiling tiles and those will be replaced.”
The ceiling tiles in the administrative area restroom and health room restroom are what builders call “absorbent” and need to be replaced with a type of vinyl tile that’s easy to clean and resistant to moisture.
“It’s the call of the inspector, of the health department, as to whether they’ll accept (absorbent tiles) or not and they wanted us to change it,” Higgins said, adding the switch won’t alter the total cost of the project “It’s a very nominal, easy thing to (change).”
Crews already have started landscaping in front of the school and in the next few weeks will begin planting grass and adding a rain garden as part of the county’s erosion control requirements.
In the next few weeks, crews also will put the final layer of asphalt on Bain School Road near the school’s entrance where heavy rain has caused water to pool. The drainage problem will be fixed when the roadwork is finished, Higgins said.
During the summer months, the school’s mobile classrooms will be moved to another school and crews will begin construction in that area to build a bus parking lot, Higgins said. The lot should be complete by the time students return in August, he said.