Work ‘progressing’ at Toliver

Gym, second floor to open ahead of schedule

Things are “progressing well” at Toliver Elementary School, said Ed McKinney, director of Pupil Personnel for the Danville Schools, during the board of education meeting Monday night.

McKinney said the new addition was working well with the older portions of Toliver, and so far it seems seamless compared to other construction projects he’s seen. 

“There’s still contrast, obviously …” he said, but “Toliver is such a cool building. It doesn’t look like the old has been neglected. It looks like the old has gotten the same preferential treatment the new has gotten.”

He said clean up has begun on the third floor, which will be open for the current 300 Toliver students when school starts on Aug. 16. Work has begun on the second floor, which will be closed this fall and will reopen after winter break. In January, work will begin on the first floor, which will remain open until the break, then be closed through the end of the year.

All of the changes are in anticipation of the district restructuring plan, slated to start in the 2018-2019 school year. Under that plan: 

• preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students will attend the newly renamed Mary G. Hogsett Primary School;

• students in second through fifth grades will attend the Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School;

• Bate Middle School, to be officially renamed John W Bate Middle school later this year, will still serve students in grades six through eight; and

• Danville High School will serve students in ninth through 12th grades.

The second floor of Toliver is expected to be done in mid-November, McKinney said.

“They think we’re ahead of schedule there and they think we’re ahead of schedule on the gym,” he said.

The school’s gymnasium was expected to be closed until October.

“That’s always good to get the gym back,” he said.

The parking lot at Toliver Elementary is being redone, and will hopefully be completed by the end of the week.

“We have an event there on Thursday, a registration event. I think we’ll have enough parking, because it’s not a full-school event,” McKinney said.

The sidewalks and bus loops on Harding Street, which were being done by the city because they were on city property, have been completed. There is still work to be done on the front of the building, restoring the columns that grace the historic structure, McKinney said. It could be a costly project but a quick process, he said.

Board members expressed concerns over the delay. 

“I’ve gotten more inquiries about the front of the building. I think we need to try to proceed with this sooner,” said board member Steve Becker. 

“I would hate to open up a new building and have that still look like that,” said board member Lori Finke.

Currently, a scaffold sits on the historic front porch of the building facing Maple Avenue. McKinney said one reason for the delay was the attempt to get the new entrance on Perryville Street opened for students because it would be difficult to be using the old entrance while working on it.

“We realize it’s a high priority,” Superintendent Keith Look said.

Christy Denny, director of admin services for the district, said another reason they had been waiting on that job was so they knew what would be in contingency.

“We have to get the work done whether it’s in contingency or not,” Becker said. “We have to do the work no matter what.”

The other school in the district to receive extensive work in the near future is Hogsett Elementary School.

Look said the district will have that conversation in the coming weeks with focus groups, such as teachers, about what the process to renovate the school should look like.