By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
As most of the Cullman City School board huddled under a temporary roof to escape the rain late last week at the Cullman High School construction site, they couldn’t help but shake their heads at the irony.
The board met at the site for an update on the project Tuesday night, though the tour was cut short by a torrential downpour that briefly flash-flooded the site. Unseasonably wet, cold and stormy weather has been common over the past several months, and officials worry it will cause delays to the tight construction schedule.
As last Tuesday shows, that seems to be the case.
“They’re already looking at having possibly lost 20 days due to weather,” superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth said. “I’ll be anxious to see a real timeline to know what it looks like.”
Officials had hoped to have the majority of the $22 million project complete before the start of the 2014-2015 school year, but it’s now possible that construction could linger into the first semester. Griffeth said it’s too early to say exactly how the weather could affect the project, though she noted the board is looking very closely at any potential contingencies that could come into play.
If needed, Griffeth said the board could potentially keep the portable classroom units currently on campus for a few extra months while work is finished.
“Right now, the only real ‘penalty’ we’d have is to rent the portables longer, and that would be a cost,” she said.
Rodney Steger, with Fuqua and Partners Architects, said crews are working hard to make up as much as possible — but noted it’s hard to make up potentially four weeks of lost time.
“They’ve obviously had a hard time with the weather, and with the type of winter we have, it’s obvious that we would have some delays from the rain and snow,” he said. “But, they’ve been working hard to make up as much as possible, sometimes even on Saturdays. We’re working to get a schedule mapped out, and that’s something that needs to be figured out now.”
Steger noted the first priority is to finish the new academic building, so it could be occupied while the rest of construction continues.
“That would be the focus, so the other work can go on,” he said.
The first phase of demolition saw the removal of the administration building, guidance building, media center and J Building.
In their place a new two-story, 68,000-square-foot academic building is being built. The academic building will include two floors of classrooms, a media center, cafe, commons, administration space and a multipurpose facility. The bottom level classrooms will be reinforced to meet storm shelter standards, meaning they can be used as shelter in the event of a tornado or powerful storm.
The J Building is being replaced with a two-story, 22,000-square-foot fine arts building. A new auditorium lobby will be built and the main auditorium renovation will also be done at this time. The A and B buildings will remain in use until phase I construction is complete.
Depending on how the new timeline shakes out, some change orders could potentially be on the way to rework the schedule for the next few months.
Despite the potential delays, Griffeth noted the board is still extremely excited about the project and all the upgrades it will bring for students.
“We’re still picking out the furniture, samples and moving forward with all those things,” she said. “It’s going to be a great upgrade for our students.”
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.