In the immortal words of Taylor Swift: “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”
One thing that isn’t immortal, although it has been standing for a pretty long time, is the Quonset hut at Charlotte Central School. It’s coming down and will be gone by the time school starts.
“The foundation’s coming out and eventually a smaller shop will be built to store tractors and school equipment,” said Kurt Proulx, property service manager for the Champlain Valley School District.
The move to dismantle the Quonset hut is just one of several improvements made in Charlotte, and other schools in the district are making changes and repairs as the first day of school looms.
The Quonset hut
Dan Cole, local historian and president of the Charlotte Historical Society, searched old town reports and found that the first reference to the Quonset hut was in the 1946 Town Meeting where they discussed building a “new machine shed” next to the town hall.
The building at the western end of Charlotte Central School was the Charlotte Town Hall until the town hall in West Charlotte was built in 1995.
By 1947, the Quonset hut had been completed and that year’s town report included the news that it cost $12,000.
Stored in the town’s machine shed were: “Two road machines; tractor; bulldozer blade; three snowplows; sluice thawing machine, cement mixer; 16 pair of grader blades; 200 rolls of snow fence; two (road) sanders; two safes; two desks; typewriter; adding machine, 300 chairs; one desk chair; various bars, shovels, picks; wheelbarrow; 21 Indian fire pumps (5 gallon backpack-style steel tanks with hand pump to fight grass and forest fires).”
Proulx said next year, after the new storage building has gone up, they will build “a better and safer” bus loop to pick up and drop off students. That is being designed now.
The Quonset hut’s metal frame will be cut down and the area where it stood will be filled in with stone before school starts. The metal will be taken to recycling.
A number of other improvements to the school have been finished or will be finished by the start of the new school year.
An ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant ramp has been installed on the east side of the building along with new steps into that end of the building.
The main water line to the school has been replaced, and so has the pump. The water has been tested and passed state water quality regulations.
Proulx said they have just about wrapped up the replacing the fuel tank lines into the building.
They’ve also replaced the locks.
“There are now no rogue keys out there,” Proulx said.
The school also has a new swipe card entry system.
Another security enhancement is a blue strobe light system that has been installed with a button that faculty can hit if there’s a lock down, whether it’s a drill or an emergency.
The lights will let teachers know that “a procedure” is happening, even if its noisy or if they and their class are outside.
The band room got a new floor.
Improvements at other schools
• At Hinesburg Community School, a new security wall is going in that will keep visitors from entering the school at the front entrance before they’ve been checked in.
They also got a new band room floor.
• Shelburne Community School is getting new sidewalks. And through the efforts of the Lewis Creek Association, they have a new rain garden that functions as a bioretention area to treat water runoff from parking lots and rooftops.
• At Champlain Valley Union High School, Proulx said they have replaced the bleachers in Gym A. The replacement bleachers are heavier duty than the old bleachers. They’ve replaced some of the motors that move the bleachers into position.
He said that the changes will have a real visual impact because, besides being new, they’re red now instead of red and white.
“The white got dirty,” he said.
They gym also got a new sound system, so it won’t be as hard to hear when the gym is full.
“You can hear music and announcements much better,” said Proulx.
The new at CVU starts right at the entrance with new doors.
Walls have been added to the metal shop dividing it into a shop area and a classroom area. Proulx said that it makes it much quieter in the classroom for class work and studies.
“The Department of Labor likes these changes because it just makes it safer for everyone involved,” Proulx said.