By Chris Collins
HAINES - Haines School during a normal school year is alive with the bustle of more than 100 children from preschool age to sixth-graders.
This spring is anything but normal.
The 94-year-old building, which is the hub of community activity, has been closed since January when a flood during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend damaged several classrooms, ceilings and floors.
The flooding happened when an overhead sprinkler failed in a second-floor classroom at the northwest end of the building during the three-day weekend.
Since then, only the 37 kindergartners and first-graders, who meet in modular classrooms behind the main building, attend school at Haines.
The students are not allowed in the main building, although an office is set up in the stage/classroom area off the cafeteria/gymnasium. Tammy Henderson, an instructional assistant, is serving as secretary in the absence of Linda Hatfield.
The Haines secretary has moved to the North Baker Campus at 2725 Seventh St. in Baker City, where most of the Haines staff and students are being housed while their school is repaired.
The North Baker Campus also provides space for the district's charter schools, Baker Web Academy and Early College, and the Eagle Cap innovative high school.
Dan Srack, the district's maintenance director, provided a tour of the Haines School building Thursday morning.
A fine layer of dust covers the floors in the classrooms and hallways where some cabinets, bulletin boards and chairs have been stacked.
Staff members chose a new interior color scheme for the walls, which have been painted a "crushed peanut" tint and trimmed in a "stone harbor" tone. The new stair tread will be "fig" colored.
"The painters are 90 percent done," Srack said.
In keeping with the Haines Hawks' school colors of gray and maroon, the hallway walls also are accented with maroon stripes. And the key on the basketball court of the school's gymnasium, which also serves as the cafeteria and auditorium (and storage room for now), will be painted maroon as part of the remodeling, Srack said.
In addition to new paint, the school has received new insulation, sheetrock and windows and an updatedalarm and sprinkler system. The electrical system has been upgraded and new cabinetry will be installed, Srack said.
While a great deal of the damage was covered by the district's insurance carrier, some of the improvements will be paid with district funds.
District administrators decided to go ahead with the upgrades while the school was closed.
"Now's the time to update," Srack said.
Belfor, a global disaster recovery and property restoration firm, is the main contractor on the project. Local subcontractors are providing services ranging from electrical to alarm installation and painting, Srack said. Asbestos abatement has been completed throughout the building as well.
District maintenance workers also are supplying labor as needed.
The district had hoped to get students back to their Haines classrooms after spring break. Now the goal is to have the work completed in time for teachers to move back in before summer break.
"It doesn't mean it's going to happen, but it's something to shoot for," Srack said.
The ultimate goal is to welcome students back to Haines School when classes resume next fall.