Middle school may not be ready in time

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Education > Construction manager says they are a month behind

By Tris DeRoma

It appears the Los Alamos Middle School will not be ready in time when school starts in August.

The news came through David Wharram, a spokesman for McCarthy Construction.

“The progress is good, however, the schedule, which was issued in May, is basically a month behind,” he said to the board members at a recent meeting on construction progress.

That would put the new date of completion at around Sept. 9, and that date does not include obtaining a certificate of occupancy from the county.

Wharram said they are just now beginning to install the wiring for computers and media and through the media center and to all of the classrooms, a “critical part” he said was supposed to have been completed on May 29.

“That reflection on progress goes throughout the rest of the building, so you are looking at this schedule being at least three weeks behind,” Wharram added.

The good news is that the school board and McCarthy Construction, the contractor in charge of the project planned for this back in May, coming up with a plan that would keep most of the middle school’s portable campus in place until the supposed Aug. 8 date of completion, just in case it was looking like the school would not be open by then.

Though McCarthy officials could not be reached for comment, the Aug. 8 date itself is a safeguard, with the absolute date of completion being Oct. 31 before McCarthy starts accruing financial penalties for being late.

Wharram went on to add that McCarthy is now working on putting back some of the portables it moved back to the campus in time for when school opens in mid-August.

“The biggest issue now is to get the utilities in the ground and the portable campus up and running,” he told the board.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said they should be getting answers from McCarthy soon.

“There’s an interest in talking with McCarthy soon to explain the difference between their visible progress and the progress they mark on their work schedule. We take David Wharram’s caution to heart, and will plan for a delayed opening, even though we still hope to open in August,” he said Friday.