Renovations Start at Danville Middle School

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DANVILLE -- A construction crew began ripping up the floors inside Danville Middle School along Route 11 on Wednesday.

Students have not been inside the middle school in Montour County for more than a year, since the building was damaged in last year's flood.

"Today's a banner day for us because we're finally breaking ground and rebuilding that building. We'll have a place to go again next school year," said Charles Smargiassy, principal of Danville Middle School.

Principal Smargiassy said the district plans to have the building ready for students by August, just in time for the 2013 school year. 

Students are currently taking classes at other buildings in the Danville Area School District.

The district is also looking to make the middle school safer in light of Friday's school shooting in Connecticut. The office, which is where visitors enter the school, may be moved from the center of the building to the front.

"We're going to be able to better control access to the building. Right now anyone can come into the building and go where they want before they go to the office. With this new facility design, visitors will have to come in through a vestibule," said the principal.

Smargiassy said the building will be flood-proof.

"The entire building construction on the first floor will be what's considered wet flood proof. That means in another event, hose it down, sanitize it. We can move back in without this major disruption we experienced in this event," said Smargiassy.

Most parents Newswatch 16 spoke with did not want to comment on the renovations. But one mom said she does not think reopening the middle school on Route 11 is a good idea.

"It's near the sewer plant. There are no outside facilities for the children to exercise or play at. You have to cross the railroad tracks to get in and out," said Jennifer Guadagno, of Danville.

The repair project costs more than $9 million. FEMA will pay for most of the work. Taxpayers in Montour County will fund the rest.