Bridge Street Middle School Upgrades Come In Under Budget
WHEELING — A major renovation project at Bridge Street Middle School is now “in the books,” and the work came in under budget.
The $42.2 million bond levy passed by voters in 2018 called for the project to cost $3.1 million, but the work came in at about $3 million, according to Ohio County Board of Education President David Croft.
School board members toured the school and its improvements before convening their regular board meeting at the school Monday night.
Croft said he is “keeping his fingers crossed” that costs are contained on other facility improvement projects happening in the school district. Renovation work at Wheeling Park High School is ongoing and is the largest project being paid for through the bond levy, and the budget there is $22 million.
Upcoming work at Woodsdale Elementary School is a big project as well, as there is much open space in the building where walls and hallways will be constructed, Croft said.
He commended Bridge Street Middle School Principal Jessica Broski-Birch and her staff for the heart they have brought into the school.
“People can put money in a building, but as you look around there are touches of the people who occupy this building,” Croft said. “That personal touch is a desire to create a warm and welcoming environment.
“It’s not just about there being new windows and a door. There are plants, and chairs where I wouldn’t have imagined chairs being. There are alternate ways to seat students.”
Teacher Shawna Saffried’s reading classroom doesn’t have traditional school desks. It instead has comfortable modern chairs where students can sit to enjoy and book, and tables where they can gather to discuss them.
Next door, teacher Karen Moffa’s sixth grade classroom features curtains she crafted from men’s ties.
There are also a number of murals found on the walls at the school, many of which were painted by Ohio County Schools alumnus and artist Vondel Bell.
But large murals in the basement denoting where to find the music and art classrooms were painted by music teacher Julie Schultz.
A wall on the main floor features a “family tree,” where teachers place pictures of themselves and their families for their students to see.
A cache of trophies won by Bridge Street students was discovered during renovation, and these have been placed in display cases near the front entrance. The oldest trophy dates back to 1913, according to Broski-Birch.
There is a new roof on the school and a new gym floor with a glossy shine.
Broski-Birch said the pride staff and students now feel when they walk into the school has “changed dramatically” with the renovation.
A more secure entrance way has been noticed by students, according to a survey conducted by a teacher.
The main entrance has been moved to an area near the school’s office, and staff have control who can enter through a “man trap” configuration. While the first door the visitor enters is unlocked, office staff must see them and unlock a second door before they can enter the building.
That hadn’t been the case before, when the entrance to the school was on the opposite side of the building, and visitors walked in and wandered to the office.
“They had concerns,” Broski-Birch said of the students. “They said how much better they felt that people were coming (to the new entrance), and we have control over that.”