Home stretch for summer construction

Posted on: Aug 25, 2017

Home stretch for summer construction

While a tight timeline calls for continued construction through the last week of summer break at the high school and middle school building, the facility will be ready for the start of classes on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

To put the situation in perspective, Jason Johnson, site supervisor with project management firm ICS, pointed out that the summer schedule called for 12 weeks of work, and mid-August marked the nine-week point.

“Three quarters of the work is already done. Contractors still have a quarter left, and they need every day to complete it,” he said.

Chris Rear, program manager for ICS, said that Delano’s quick turnaround, while a challenge for school staff and contractors alike, is not unique.

“It is not atypical to be right down to the wire. It’s very common. It happens in almost every school project,” he said. “You wish you could get done the first week of August so you have the whole month to prep, but that’s the exception, not the rule.”

Rear explained that school projects are generally organized with a very aggressive schedule in order to finish large projects in relatively short periods of time.

“You don’t want a school project to drag out for three or four years, so you try to get as much work done as possible in a summer,” he said.

Classrooms on track

So where are things at inside the secondary building?

All the necessary classrooms are scheduled for completion by Friday, Sept. 1, before Labor Day weekend. Rear said the FACS, music and tech ed. areas will likely be turned over to the school district the week of Aug. 21. Final furniture installation will take place the week of Aug. 28, but the installation of acoustical wall panels in the music area will need to occur shortly after school begins, outside of regular school hours.

The most challenging classroom area to complete will be four rooms in the new science suite. While the rooms will be ready to receive students on Sept. 5, some finishing work may need to take place either when students are not present or in unobtrusive areas during the school day.

“The building is going to be structurally and architecturally safe and sound. The only thing that might be left in areas where the building is occupied will be minor finishes,” said Rear. “We’re not talking about painting or chemicals or anything like that. We’re talking about cover plates, or putting in countertops in places where they aren’t needed right away – things like that. There will be no hazard to the occupants.”

Cafeteria and commons

While the full high school commons and front entrance will not be finished until October, a sufficient section of the commons area will be ready to accommodate students during the lunch hour from day one. Some tables may be located in the new expanded serving area initially, due to space constraints, but any congestion will ease in October.

The digital commons area should be largely finished, complete with furniture, in time for the start of school, though some window installation may occur later. Before then the window openings will have temporary coverings.

The unfinished commons, high school office and performing arts center areas will be closed off with temporary walls. There will be interior access to the Tiger Activity Center through the completed area of the commons.

Multiple cafeteria cleaning sessions began in mid-August, and will have the area ready for food preparation when students arrive.

Final touches

While it might appear that the building is far from ready, Rear said the finish work goes quickly.

“There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes from a mechanical and electrical standpoint that people don’t see. It has to be done in sequence because there is a lot of flow to it,” he said. “I can see where people might wonder if we’ll be ready, but flooring goes fast. Casework goes fast. Painting goes fast. It’s the unseen work that takes a while, and there was a lot done.”

In short, Rear said he was comfortable with the project’s progress, but that contractors needed to keep pushing as September looms.

“Everybody is working late. Everybody is working weekends to make sure they have buffer time to hand things over,” he said. “School is going to start on time, one way or another.”