By Errol Castens
OXFORD – The architect overseeing construction of the new Oxford High School said he’s confident the project will be finished in time to open on schedule in January. School officials, however, are a little more guarded in their optimism.
The $30 million project, begun in September 2012, has at times been more than two months behind, but W.G. Yates Construction has made up much of the time deficit after adding more crews on the site on Sisk Avenue in the Oxford Commons development.
“Yates is committed to the contract completion dates on the core buildings needed to open school, but as they have said that it all depends on getting the HVAC started so final finishes can be installed,” Sonny Brownlee, the district’s director of school services, wrote to the Board of Trustees this week.
Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said he is “relatively confident” that school will open as scheduled on Jan. 7.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done between now and Nov. 30,” he said. “That still gives us a few days in December to get ready for a January move-in, but there’s almost no margin for error.”
Guild said he is “pretty confident” that Yates will make its deadline on everything but the new school’s gym but said it’ll be “down to the wire.”
“They’re working multiple shifts, and they have committed to that Nov. 30 date,” he said. “I was up there all day (Monday) and walked the job with Yates.”
Brownlee’s report noted that one critical path is getting the air conditioning installed and working so that finishes could dry properly – an element over which Guild is at ease.
“They should be turning on the AC any day now, and that’s probably the last real milestone that’ll push real close,” Guild said. “I think it’ll be done, and (the students) will be over there.”
Harvey said if critical safety elements are not finished in time, the current high school will remain in use early in the spring semester.
“We need to get out of this building so we can renovate it,” he said. “If we get far into February, if it comes down to that, for the main administration and academic wings, no – we’ll be here until the end of the academic year – but right now we’re still planning on moving in on schedule.”