By Kevin Kelley
A landmark achievement in the construction of the new Lee Burneson Middle School came on a landmark day.
Around noon on Dec. 12 – 12/12/12 – Principal Paul Wilson, on a construction lift, pounded a nail in the roof at the southwestern corner of the new building. The ceremonial nail represented the enclosing of the building from the elements. The milestone means that work can begin in earnest on the interior of the school.
Like its predecessor building, the new Lee Burneson Middle School is named after the man who served as the district’s superintendent from 1924 to 1963. The new building will welcome students in September.
Before Wilson grabbed his hammer, Westlake City Schools Board of Education President Tom Mays addressed about two dozen Turner Construction employees who had briefly halted their construction work for their ceremony.
Mays told the workers that decades from now, the structure they built will still be educating Westlake’s children.
“These schools will still be going strong. We’ll still be educating kids,” Mays said. “And it’s because of the work that all of you have done that’s going to allow us to not only continue to educate for excellence but do so in a 21st century building. And that’s something that Westlake has sorely lacked.”
Stephanie Morgan, the district’s director of pupil services, thanked the construction workers for putting up with school officials taking tours of the structure while they were still working.
“It just seems like it was not that long ago that we were all gathered as a community making phone calls from an office building trying to get support for our bond issue,” she said. In May 2010, Westlake voters passed, by a 55.4 to 44.6 percent margin, an $84 million bond issue to pay for the new schools. Homeowners are paying an additional $8.68 per month for every $100,000 in home value for the construction program, which also includes construction of a new high school and renovation of the existing middle school as an intermediate school. All elements of the project are on time and on budget, according to Dave Puffer, the district’s construction supervisor.
Morgan said the new school will educate students well into the future, to a time when the district’s current educators will not be on the scene.
Morgan noted that she has two young boys who will one day attend the school.
“On behalf of Peter and Andrew, thank you,” she said.