Renovating to Better Serve Our Students and Community

  • Background

    The 146,000 square-foot building we now know as Claymont Elementary was constructed in 1969 as a high school. Minor renovations occurred prior to reopening the building as an elementary school, and Major Capital funds were utilized in 2003 to 2004 to reopen the pool and renovate the gym and auditorium. In 2009 the District used Major Capital Improvement funds to convert seven classrooms into kindergarten rooms. Otherwise, the classroom wing of the building has received no major renovation since the school opened.

    The upcoming renovation project will be a total renovation of the building and site, with the exception of areas renovated as part of the 2003 and 2004 Capital Project. At the time of original construction, electricity was inexpensive; therefore, the mechanical systems for Claymont High School were 100% electric. Over the years, as electric rooftop units have failed, the District has replaced them with gas-fired units. The classroom wing is the last remaining portion of the building with 100% electric mechanical systems.

    The current classroom HVAC systems are split system heat pumps with individual DX units (compressors) on the roof, and unit vents suspended from the classroom ceilings with a direct fresh air louver through the exterior wall. Because they were installed when the building was used as a high school, these systems are not sized properly for the current use of the building and often lead to humid conditions indoors. We are proposing to remove these systems and install more efficient systems that will also improve building comfort and indoor air quality. A new system will require duct work and the removal of numerous compressors from the roof. As a result, the project scope needs to include a complete renovation of other building components as well. Ceilings will need to be removed, the roof will need replacement, and since the building was constructed with zero insulation it makes sense to install insulation while we have this opportunity.

    Another key component of this proposed project is to replace the main electrical distribution system and switch gear. The industry standard for the lifespan of building electrical switch gear and transformers is 30 years. The systems at Claymont Elementary are now over 40 years old. The main service cables failed in April 2013, and we are now operating the building on spare feeders. The project scope would include new building feeders, main transformers, and main switchgear. As the District has converted heating systems from electric to gas in other buildings, the electrical demand for the overall buildings has decreased greatly. Claymont’s current electrical systems are oversized and inefficient. By reducing the size of these systems, the District will realize operational savings.

    There have been numerous changes in the Building Codes, Fire Marshal Codes, and ADA codes. These changes and upgrades will need to be included in any renovation work. 90% of the roofing needs to be replaced. Current Building Codes will require us to increase roof insulation, a thicker roof will now require all new through-wall flashing, and NFPA code and ADA code will require the replacement and relocation of all classroom doors and an upgrade to all stairwell doors.

    Finally, the center portion of the building houses the main office, cafeteria and several classrooms. The mechanical systems in this area are more than 20 years old and require replacement.

    architect rendering        cafeteria rendering

    Project Specifics

    Site work (repave 50% of blacktop area and replace 80% of curbs and sidewalks)
    Storm drainage improvements
    Reconfigure loading dock and relocate trash facilities
    Install new kitchen grease trap and underground holding tank
    Classroom HVAC unit Replacement (new variable refrigerant system)
    Dedicated gas fired fresh air systems with energy recovery (ducted to each classroom)
    Exterior wall insulation
    New roof with increased insulation (90% of total roof area)
    New classroom doors (required by new ADA codes and NFPA)
    Installation of new classroom windows where fresh air vents are removed. Increased classroom day lighting.
    Replacement of all main switch gear, transformers, and main feeders
    Replace generator system and increase coverage
    Replacement of classroom ceilings and hallway ceilings
    Replacement of existing classroom T12 lighting with more efficient LED lighting
    Removal of high school lockers (44 years old) and installation of appropriate elementary school cubbies and lockers
    New classroom white boards (at appropriate height for elementary schools)
    Abatement of VAT floor tiles (30% of classrooms, 70% previously abated)
    Limited classroom cabinetry (elementary schools require storage for educational materials)
    New flooring and painting (hallway terrazzo to remain)
    Extensive renovations to kitchen and cafeteria
    Replacement of auditorium house and stage lighting (current system is original to building)
    Replacement of Pool Pak rooftop unit.
    Renovations to front office area
    Replacement of any rooftop HVAC system that is older than 20 years. (Several units are newer and will remain.)
    Limited replacement of old student furniture


    The total budget for this work is $26,482,900.


    Construction work will be phased over two years. Portions of the building will be closed during construction, and classrooms and other functions will be relocated away from construction areas. For at least one school year, several grade levels will be relocated temporarily to the old Darley Road School.