Phase III work ready to begin

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Construction projects at Carroll high and intermediate schools could finally get underway today.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Preliminary work for phase III school construction projects could begin as early as today, Monday, with demolition at Carroll County High.
Schools Superintendent Greg Smith said that contractor New Atlantic has obtained all the permits necessary to begin its tasks at the high school.
Weather permitting, contractors will prepare to add new classrooms and locker rooms at the field house at the high school by removing the asphalt to the south of the building, in the fenced in area.
A construction office trailer now sits near a U.S. 58 entrance to the high school grounds.
Triad Builders, contractor for the Carroll Intermediate School, is finalizing the permits needed there.
Building work to create secure entrances at each school will have an impact on bus and parent drop-off and pick-up traffic at each site, Smith said. Educators will notify parents and students in the near future about those changes.
School representatives continue working with the building inspector and the fire marshal to determine the best entrances and exits for the facilities as construction proceeds, Smith said.
Carroll County is funding the construction with a $15 million bond award that hinges on adding grades to both the intermediate and high schools in order to close aging Woodlawn School.
The new clerk of the works, Dennis Cole, hired by Carroll County to serve as construction manager, can contribute greatly to the safety discussion, the superintendent added. Cole has a lot of experience with building projects while school is in session.
He knows a lot about scheduling “quiet times” during the school day and setting up safe zones.
“My emphasis is to not mix hard hats and backpacks,” Cole has told The Gazette.
Another big responsibility for the construction manager is trying to save enough money in the project to afford an elusive but necessary component for the high school — an auxiliary gym, Smith said.
The basic work — which includes the addition of classroom spaces, new entrances and administration areas — does not provide for all the needs at the schools. Smith said that a new space will be needed at the high school to allow all four grades to take physical education classes.
The eventual addition of the ninth grade to the high school means another 300 students to schedule for phys ed classes.
To do that would take an auxiliary gym. Smith added that a question remains where to put the auto mechanics lab when after the cafeteria expansion at the high school.
Carroll County officials have decided to buy the construction materials directly to save money, and that duty will fall to the construction manager.
The goal is "to save enough in construction and supply costs to fund the auxiliary gym and, if we can, the auto mechanics lab that will be onsite,” as Smith put it. “We are trying to do so many things with the funds that have been allocated. [Cole] is going to be working diligently to find cost savings where he can.”
Direct purchasing will mean a savings in sales taxes, for one, Smith said. Direct purchasing will also allow the county to pursue “value engineering” ideas.
That could include buying less expensive doors made out of ash instead of oak to outfit the buildings, for example.
Any savings would go straight back into other elements of the schools project, Smith said.