While renovations continued on campus over this summer, construction workers spent the week following the Fourth of July holiday revamping the Media Center. When the building’s ceiling tiles were stripped away in order to refurbish AC systems, a population of bats was discovered living within the structure.
Assistant Principal Brian Dorn explained that in Florida, and under federal regulation, humans are not allowed to come into direct contact with bats, which made it difficult to remove the animals without endangering them. ”From my understanding, bats are a common occurrence on campus because we live in the middle of the woods here with our beautiful campus—it’s common for bats to get into [the crawl space in the ceilings],” Dorn said.
To solve the unforeseen issue, a pest control company specializing in bat removal was called in to help. Florida Pest Control, located in Sarasota, hung nets to ensure the bats (common brown bats) would be able to fly safely out of the library, and hopefully find a new, better-suited habitat. The company also placed a camera at the location to count the bat population as they made their way out of the Media Center.
As the bats slowly exited the building, renovations continued as planned. The old AC duct-work was torn away, then replaced with a newer model designed with a high efficiency polymer, making the overall structure more durable. “It’s a plastic that’s moreimpervious to being punctured from outside,” Dorn said. “A lot of times when you get roof leaks and stuff like that, when [maintenance] comes back in and patches those things, the old insulation, if damaged, would actually collapse on itself, which causes the AC to work hard to get the air pushed all the way through the building.” New LED lightning was also installed, which is more cost effective and environmentally friendly.
When renovations were finished, the ceiling tiles were reinstalled and all systems were tested for functionality. Following the completion of these tests, Pine View prepared to hang up the iconic papier mâché pterodactyl in its Media Center home. However, the dinosaur will no longer reside in the library.
Due to safety concerns the Sarasota County School District has decided it will not be reinstalled. When Dorn, along with other staff, examined the interior of the sculpture, the PVC piping and lumber holding the pterodactyl together had deteriorated tremendously. The dinosaur, now over two decades old, was originally brought over from the old campus to the current one by third-grade teacher Suzi Shea and her class.
The pterodactyl will most likely end up as a permanent relic in the Pine View Archives, but due to the size of the sculpture, this is uncertain. At 20 feet long and 11 feet wide, finding a new location for the dinosaur has been difficult. “We’re trying to do something that will keep it here at least in some capacity, so that it isn’t left unknown at this point,” Dorn said.
Both students and staff are sad to see the dinosaur go. “When I was a student here, I graduated in 2001 and the pterodactyl was a fixture at the library then,” Pine View alumna and current social studies teacher Kelly Krejnik said. “And when I came back in 2014, one of the things that had not changed yet was that the pterodactyl was still there. It was something familiar to see that made me feel like I was back at Pine View.”
Twelfth-grader William Wang said, “I guess it’s strange because it’s been there for so long. I’ve been here since third grade and seeing it up there has always kind of been a reminder of how cool and unique Pine View is. I kind of think it’s sad that it’s going down.”
In a recent email update to Pine View staff, Dorn additionally explained that the other Media Center dinosaurs, along with the pterodactyl, will no longer reside in the library due to their age as well.
Dorn is confident that in spite of their removal, it will open up an opportunity for students to exhibit their current artwork for all to see. “I think that out of a bad situation for some people… it’s going to allow us as a school to showcase the amazing things that our current students are doing, which I think is important,” he said.