By Megan Miller, Editor
TRUSSVILLE – At the Trussville City Schools work session on July 14, the progress of Cahaba and Magnolia Elementary Schools was reported.
The Cahaba building is an extensive renovation of an existing building while the Magnolia facility is being built from scratch.
Steven Blalock of Blalock Construction reported that Cahaba Elementary School will be complete for the start of school on August 24. Construction is nearing completion at this time and finishing touches will soon be put on the building, as well as paving and landscaping on the exterior. Substantial completion is expected on or before August 10.
“Cahaba Elementary School is beautiful and everyone is excited to move into this historic building in the center of Trussville,” Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill said. “Watch for details coming soon on a ribbon cutting for the new school.”
Gary Nivens of Argo Construction reported that Magnolia Elementary School is running several weeks behind schedule, and won’t be turned over to the school system until September 23. Nivens claimed 28 weather days and 59 days related to change orders, most of which will now be used by Argo to finish the school by the revised completion date.
Board Member Bill Roberts pointed out that the Cahaba and Magnolia projects have run parallel to each other, with Magnoli Elementary School being built from the ground up, and Cahaba being renovated.
“Magnolia couldn’t have been simpler for a new building,” Roberts said. “Cahaba was a complicated situation, but it rained the same number of days at Cahaba as it did Magnolia.”
Nivens reported that some needed materials have been delayed, and there currently isn’t enough manpower to get the job done on time. Nivens said everyone is currently working Monday-Saturday on the project, with 10-hour days Monday-Friday and 8-10 hour days on Saturday.
“My vocabulary will not allow me to express how disappointed I am,” Roberts said. “The reason I was following this job so closely is I had phone calls and warnings that there would be a day of disappointment in that job, and today is the day of disappointment.”
Board member Stan Garret said that Argo Construction should consider the number of people that will be disappointed by the school not being complete on schedule, and consider going outside a normal operating system in order to get the job done.
“I think sometimes you have to go outside normal systems so the customer is satisfied at the end of the day,” Garret said. “In operations, a 10-hour day is a short day. If materials are delayed there are ways to expedite that; it may cost more money but it can be done.”
Nevins said that Argo Construction has reported issues as they’ve arisen, and been denied requested time extensions over the course of the project.
“We’ll work to open the school as soon as possible, but as far as saying it’ll be on time, I can’t make that commitment,” Nevins said. “To make that commitment would be disingenuous.”
Board President Sid McNeal said according to his records extensions at the beginning of the job had been denied, and that expediting a job in the last month of a project is a lot more difficult than expediting a job in the last 90-120 days of the job.
McNeal said there would be a subsequent investigation as to why the project was not completed on time, regardless of weather or materials.
“From what I see you and the architect have been at odds since the beginning of the job, and we’ll need to do some investigation into that,” McNeal said. “The job will be ongoing during our next meeting in August, and we may ask that you come see us again then.”
Dr. Neill was able to report the school system has a plan B in place, compiled by the principals of Magnolia and Paine Elementary Schools. All parties have worked together to ensure that schedules, lunchtimes, bus drivers, bus numbers and more will remain the same from August through June, the only thing that will change is the location when the move is made from Paine Elementary School to Magnolia Elementary School.
“Administrators, faculty and staff will work to ensure a seamless school year with no interruption to the educational program,” Neill said.