FAIRMONT - With five days remaining before students and their parents arrive at Fairmont Elementary for conferences, workers have picked up the pace.
According to Superintendent Joe Brown, everything is on track to open the preK-2 addition next week on time and, quite possibly, under budget.
But there is still work to finish up.
Assistant Principal Michelle Rosen enjoys a good book Wednesday in one of the new classrooms.
Small dots of blue electrical tape mark the walls where touchups are needed; stair treads are being installed; and furniture is being placed.
"These next five days are critical to us," Brown said.
Teachers have moved into their classrooms. Aside from some boxes, the rooms look close to ready, with desks assigned to students and posters decorating the walls.
Kindergarten rooms are spacious at 1,200 square feet, including a separate bathroom so teachers don't have to be constantly escorting children down the hall. First- and second-grade rooms enclose 900 square feet. The rooms in the addition are bigger than their counterparts in the existing structure that holds third through sixth grades, although Principal Jim Davison did not know exactly how much larger.
With increasing enrollment at Fairmont Area Schools, district officials have opted to add sections of kindergarten, first and second grades, filling extra rooms built in the construction.
"It was designed to have extra K, 1 and 2 but because we added those classes we are using all the classrooms," Brown said. "We are going to be filling up the building sooner than I though we would."
Should enrollment grow enough to require more sections, there is some room in the existing structure to accommodate another class.
Despite extensive budget-cutting the district underwent last year, all but two certified staff at the elementary level have been re-hired using funds raised through new students.
"The new students generate ... $300,000 of extra revenue that we used to hire the 4.5 people," Brown said. "We are using new money to hire the teachers back."
The construction project as a whole has come in close to budget expectations.
"We are still under budget, but it is close," Brown said.
Funds left over will be used to build a sidewalk and a crash barrier near the ECFE playground.
If there is any money after that, Brown hopes to fix a badly warped floor on the stage area in the gym.
Any work left to be completed after school begins will take place after hours and on weekends.
An open house is scheduled for the community to come and see the new building from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 18.