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June 30, 2014

Delay possible in CHS construction due to weather

CULLMAN — Wet, unpredictable weather over the past few months could cause a delay in the tight timeline required for the massive, Cullman High School renovation project.

Superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth noted she is in constant communication with architects and crews on site, who have warned her the recent weather problems could cause construction of the main, new building to miss its original projected completion date of August 1.

Originally, officials had planned to occupy the new building, which encompasses offices, language arts and humanities, at the start of the school year in mid-August.

“It’s day-to-day right now, and we are expecting a bit of a delay, though we’re obviously hoping for no delay,” Griffeth said. “We’re moving forward, and we might have some hard calls to make in the next few weeks in regards to contingencies, but there’s still a great possibility we’ll be on time. That’s still what we’re hoping for. We still have that glimmer of hope.”

If construction is completed before the start of school, Griffeth noted the system will still need at least a week for setup and staging to move in furniture and equipment.

“We still have to worry about furniture and all those things, which takes about a week,” she said. “It would be nip and tuck to get it all in on time, and with the weather its just thrown some things off. It takes a great bit of orchestration on the part of the contractor to get people in and not on top of one another.”

Griffeth said the board is already mapping out contingency plans in case the building is not complete, and reiterated they will be ready for students regardless of the project once the first day of the 2014-2015 school year arrives.

“We’ll be ready for kids, we’re just not exactly sure where we’ll have them yet,” she said. “But when its finished, we can’t wait for students to be a part of this. It will be a real showcase, and hopefully a place students will want to be to learn.”

In an effort to hit the construction schedule, as many as 140 people are sometimes on site working in an effort to make up lost time. A recent count showed approximately 20 work days have been lost due to inclement weather, which could push the final completion date into the 2014-2015 fall semester.

After coming in slightly over budget at $22 million last year, the board approved a change order to shave approximately $243,000 from the cost due to value engineering during the late design process. The board has also issued $12.9 million in special tax school warrants to fund the remainder of the work. A previous warrant was issued when construction began.

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 includes 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.

Officials say the new sections also feature much-needed technological infrastructure upgrades.

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.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.

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