Why campus construction delayed student locker assignments for over a month

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Originally published on November 7, 2015

Construction on Nov. 5: this new wing will replace the current X-wing bungalows. Photo by Emma Tick-Raker

Lowell students already carry plenty of weight with their academics and extracurriculars. Carrying all of their books and equipment only adds to their load. Locker installation has been delayed for nearly two months, due to slow delivery and installation. Because of this, the administration delayed completing locker assignments until mid-October, leaving many students without lockers. In addition, a new system has been implemented for locker assignments.

Locked Out: Delayed Assignments of Lockers

Most students had to wait at least one month for locker assignments, and over two hundred waited at least two months.

Without lockers, students have to carry all their materials the entire day. This is especially a burden for students who have commitments after school. For the school play, students are required to bring a change of clothes for all rehearsals, which run four days a week, according to senior Akeylah Hernandez. “Without a locker, I had to carry around all my clothes, shoes and sometimes props for scenes,” Hernandez said. “At one point, I had to carry around these enormous pillows all day.”

“Without a locker, I had to carry around all my clothes, shoes and sometimes props for scenes. At one point, I had to carry around these enormous pillows all day.”

The delay was a result of locker orders backing up after a major locker manufacturer went out of business, causing a supply shortage, according to Swinerton Builders’ senior project manager, Peter Vorametsanti, who oversees construction under the seismic retrofit project at Lowell.

Lockers were originally scheduled to be completed over the summer, but the locker manufacturer, Lyon, delayed the lockers’ delivery date until the end of August. When Republic Storage, another major locker manufacturer, went out of business, Lyon took on Republic Storage’s clients. Lyon was overwhelmed and orders backed up. The school kept its order with Lyon rather than changing to another provider. Vorametsanti said that changing to another locker company would create even longer delays, because the school would be at the end of the order queue.

But the delay couldn’t have been prevented because lockers were ordered as soon as the contractor was authorized, according to Vorametsanti. In addition, there was no payment due yet, as money usually isn’t paid until the goods are delivered, so there was less leverage to get Lyon to speed up the order.

Problems such as incorrect building blueprints and missing locker parts also delayed completed locker installation until the start of October.

A more complete explanation from Vorametsanti is at the bottom of the article.

The new lockers, provided by Lyon, bring a splash of color to the hallways after a long month of delay. Photo by Lily Young

Lockers for All: New System, New Rules, No Rotations

Lockers were assigned as they were installed, and it took about two months into the school year until all students received a locker. A small batch of green lockers were first installed in late August next to the gym and in the science building. These lockers were free, and included with the school’s order.

At the start of September, the main batch of lockers, which are all red, were delivered. They were installed on the third, second, and first floors in that order. Third floor lockers were installed during the weekend of Sept. 12, second floor lockers were installed during the Sept. 19 weekend, and first floor lockers were installed during the Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 weekends, completing installation.

Students will keep the same lockers for four years, rather than rotate each year.

The new lockers are three-tiered, and all students have smaller, individual lockers rather than sharing larger lockers like before.

To streamline locker assignments, administrators came up with a new system where students will keep the same lockers for four years, according to principal Andrew Ishibashi. In the old system, the third floor lockers were designated to the freshmen, math wing lockers went to the sophomores, second floor lockers went to the juniors, and first floor lockers went to the seniors. The administration processed new information for all lockers each year, because lockers rotated every year. Processing typically took three to four weeks in the beginning of the school year.

With the new system, the administration hopes to assign lockers to all students by the first day of school, based on the lockers’ proximity to each registry. Incoming freshmen would receive the previous seniors’ lockers, so the administration only would have to process a quarter of the lockers. Ishibashi suggests leaving approximately 200 lockers in reserve, and students who are unsatisfied with their assigned lockers can go through a lottery at the end of the year for one of the reserved lockers.

“I’m against the new system is because I feel like it’s unfair. Basically, one third of students are going to get stuck with a bottom locker for four years.”

Some students dislike the new system. “The reason I’m against the new system is because I feel like it’s unfair,” Student Body Council events coordinator Matthew Echols said. “Basically, one third of students are going to get stuck with a bottom locker for four years.”

Administrators originally hoped the implementation would not begin until all the lockers were installed and a meeting was held with student government. But, time constraints and numerous student complaints pushed administrators to assign lockers as they were installed, rather than waiting. Because of this, there was no meeting with student government. “I take full responsibility and apologize,” Ishibashi said. “I wanted to wait longer to make a decision, but we couldn’t assign lockers too last minute.”

Solar-powered lights line the school’s entrances and football field to increase visibility for night events. Photo by Kelley Grade

School Safety: New Security Cameras and Solar Lights

Over 100 new security cameras now dot the campus, with visual feed sent to monitors in the main office. Lowell is the last high school in SFUSD to obtain security cameras. Ishibashi hopes the cameras will cut down on pranks, thefts and break-ins, such as the break-ins that have occurred in 2014 and over the summer.

Additionally, the school has new solar-powered lights at the front of the school and behind the football field to keep the campus well lit for night-time events such as dances, plays, and sports games. In the past, the school used daisy-chain prop lights to light up the football field. Security guards and JROTC members also used flashlights, according to assistant principal of buildings and grounds Holly Giles. Solar-powered lights help events run more smoothly, as they do not require much work to start up.

The newly renovated first floor girls’ bathroom has been expanded per student requests. Photo by Kelley Grade

Updating the School: Repairs and Requests

Many classrooms acquired new flooring, shades, fans and freshly painted walls, but there were problems such as cut phone cords, malfunctioning PA systems, unsynchronized clocks and defective electrical outlets.

Student requests have also helped create changes to bathrooms. The first floor girls’ bathroom has been expanded in response to the San Francisco Youth Voice Survey from Peer Resources and student requests over the years. The women’s closet next to the bathroom was knocked out to create more space.

Construction on Sept. 22: the new wing is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016. Photo by Lily Young

Started From the Bottom

The new wing is scheduled for completion in fall 2016, and will house classrooms and act as a multipurpose space. The world language department will move into the new wing. Other than the world language department, no other departments will move around. “We did it this way so no one would be impacted when the final change came,” Giles said.

In the summer of 2014, seismic retrofit began in the art wing. While construction in the main building continued in the 2014–2015 school year, going from the first floor and then moving to the second floor, the temporary “X-Wing” bungalows appeared over spring break 2015 to accommodate the world language department until their final move into the new wing. The third floor construction was completed over the summer of 2015. The grass in the front of the school removed due to construction will be replaced when the rainy season comes, according to Ishibashi.

Construction Manager Peter Vorametsanti Explains the Locker Delay

The District decided to add lockers to the project through a Change Order (a document that modifies the original construction contract) which was executed on May 5, 2015. The Contractor ordered the lockers shortly after that. The order was placed with Lyon Industries, one of several large locker suppliers. Republic and MedArt are the two other big suppliers in the industry. Demolition, including the old lockers, began on June 1st. Locker demolition was completed by June 15th. At that time, the Contractor anticipated locker delivery on June 22 and installation to begin right away in order to get this item of work out of the way and before heavy construction begins. Obviously the lockers never get delivered until much later. We were told that Lyon has some manufacturing issues and the delivery date was moved to July 20. July 20 came and went with no lockers on site. We found out at that time that Republic, another one of the big suppliers in the industry just declared bankruptcy. As a result Lyon and MedArt were overwhelmed by Republic’s backlog which translate to delivery delay industry wide. We finally received a small shipment on August 26 (the green lockers) and the main batch arrived on September 2nd. Installation began right away. Lockers on the third floor were installed during the September 12 weekend. The Main Building of the 2nd floor got lockers the following weekend but was delayed slightly by the AP testing. The remaining lockers were installed during the weekend of September 26 and October 3rd.

In rough terms, the lockers were supposed to arrive 6 (1.5 months) weeks after ordering. The manufacturer delayed delivery by about 8 weeks which add up to 14 (3.5 months) weeks from ordering to delivering.

The delay was very difficult or maybe close to impossible to anticipate. Ordering was made as soon as the Contractor was authorized, therefore it could not have happened any sooner. No one can control what order Lyon decide to take on since they are a business enterprise and they are not breaking the law. Money is usually not paid until the goods are delivered so Lyon was not due any payment which did not give us any leverage. We thought about cancelling the order and placing a new one but that would not have helped since every order was delayed and we would end up at the back of the line.