The renovation of the existing elementary building started the day after students left thanks to the work of the elementary teachers and teacher assistants. The faculty had to clear out all of the supplies and equipment. Facilities Manager Rashid Suleymanov led his crew in storing the boxes and furniture, and with Project Manager Cyril Courjeau, they prepared the Gabus construction company for 54 days of intense work. The TIS summer break from June 16 to when the teachers return to their classrooms on August 7 which is a period of 54 days. They have those 54 days to refurbish and connect the existing building to the new building. They will be installing connecting hallways, opening up doors, removing walls, replacing floors in many of the classrooms, covering the building with travertine, as well as a myriad of things that need to be done before the students and teachers come back.
It was strange to walk out of the elementary building without the construction wall. The corrugated aluminum fence was first erected in the summer of 2018 when the utilities work first started on the project. The construction was halted and delayed for several years due to a variety of reasons. The fence has been there since my interview visit in September of 2018. Workers took down the fence so they can work on the facade and connect the buildings.
I couldn’t help but think of the war in Ukraine and the scenes of half-destroyed buildings when looked at the construction site. Unlike Ukraine, this is hopeful destruction with the promise of a new building and an expanded elementary campus on the horizon. Cyril and Rashid and the Gabus construction team have a lot to do in the next 54 days and beyond.
Besides the big elementary project, there are also several other construction projects taking place during the summer break on the other side of the campus. I am excited to see what the refurbished Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) will look like when we return to campus. The MPR is used for assemblies, meetings, performances, exhibitions, and classes. I always felt it should be a showpiece room for the school and thanks to Olga the designer, it will be.
Rashid is also directing the replacement of the floors on the second and third floors of the secondary school building. It is our oldest building on campus and although we joke about it, the squeaky floors are a distraction to teaching and learning. The construction industry in Uzbekistan has improved greatly since the wooden floors were put in and we are looking forward to a modern and quiet floor for the secondary students and teachers.
The last big project will be installing a new chiller (air conditioning system) in the secondary school building. Thanks to Finance Director Feruza Abdullina and the board facilities committee, a new system was purchased earlier this spring. The global supply chain disaster caused by the pandemic is slowing down the arrival of the chiller, so it will most likely not be installed until the Fall Break, but the foundation has been laid for cooler indoor temperatures in the years to come.
Finally, I wanted to recognize the work of the TIS business office and IT Director, Hoji Kobilov. They were meeting this week to analyze the feedback from faculty and staff on how to improve the RMS system. Faculty use the RMS software to order and pay for supplies and other expenses, ask for maintenance or groundskeeping tasks and apply for professional development. Feruza and Hoji have a goal of better “customer” service. The user feedback will help the software developers make for a more efficient user experience. This will allow the teachers to focus more on teaching and learning.